As I've mentioned a couple of times, the American legal system is quickly going down the toilet. Normally, when I make this observation it applies to O.J. Simpson or the like. However, I discovered the greatest and most fabulous legal issue since Anna Nicole Smith went head to head with the heirs of the J. Howard Marshall estate:
If you don't live in Houston, you might not be privy to this story. However, if you do reside in greater Houston, unless your habitat is under a rock you've been bombarded with the latest and greatest soap opera in the county DA's office.
Where to begin . . .
Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal is up for reelection. Somehow Rosenthal missed the lesson on common sense in the 21st century workplace which tells one that if one must carry on or attempt to woo one's executive assistant, one really ought NOT document the events via EMAIL.
Actually those emails were fairly tame. A local news station got hold of them and put them on the web. I was looking forward to the literary raunchiness of a Charles and Camilla circa 1990ish (if you don't know-- look it up), but merely got a bunch of "I miss you"/ "I love you" crap. There was a statement about hiring "hot interns" made by or to a work cohort (oh, and Rosenthal is totally Brad Pitt-- lemme tell ya), but to me that was the worst in the batch.
Initially, I defended Rosenthal. Yeah, he's a scumbag, but that doesn't mean he's not good at his job. I didn't see anything that horrific in those emails. Besides, this isn't 1690. Scumbags are all over the place in the workforce, according to Karen. She said they are frequently the source of much gossip and fodder, making the day worthwhile.
Besides, lots of people use their work email for all kinds of personal communication. Granted, I see a difference between Rosenthal emailing his lover/ potential lover/ whatever at work and say Karen emailing a friend about what time they are meeting to go see a movie. But is it truly that different? Technically, it's still using workplace tools for personal use.
That was my original stance on all of this. Thank goodness I didn't post before Christmas.
It seems that whispering sweet nothings into the computer of his personal assistant and the potential of sexually harassing college students is just the tip of the iceberg. After a fairly intensive search through his email, it was discovered he had all kinds of racist, pornographic, and generally naked stuff on his email. The problem, though, is not receiving such crap. The problem is when one forwards it to others.
For the last week, the first news story on the local news broadcasts is the Rosenthal emails, typically including an example. I've seen the footage of this woman in a yellow tube top sitting on a bench when suddenly a man comes behind her and pulls her top down like a hundred times due to this drama. So basically within the first ninety second of the local news we see a topless woman on a bench with a black oval covering her unmentionables.
Every freakin' night.
I'd like them to vary it a little. From what I've heard there is other footage.
Or better yet, maybe a anchorperson could just say, "You know that Rosenthal story we've been entertaining you with since before Christmas? Well, we're going to forgo the footage of the nudie emails and just get to today's latest.
Anyway, I asked Karen about her work email. She said she made a point of not giving her work email out to anyone who wouldn't need it for work purposes.
"I have a personal email address," she told me. "That's what it's for."
At this point in the story, after much persuasion, Rosenthal agreed renege on his reelection campaign, although he would not resign. Democrats are pulling a "it's past the deadline, he has to run" to ensure a victory. Republican ladder climbers in the DA's office are attempting to chase down the nomination.
Anyway, it gets better.
It seems that some of the nasty emails came from one Dr. Siegler, the husband of assistant DA Kelly Siegler, who is one of the fore mentioned ladder climbers. Siegler is known for such courtroom dramatics as straddling a man on a bed to demonstrate how a woman could not "accidentally" stab her husband forty times.
So then Siegler tries to distance herself from her husband, saying that he's an idiot for sending emails like that. This made sense and for a brief moment I wasn't holding anything against Siegler except poor taste in men and her tendencies towards the dramatic.
But then came Lakewood.
It seems that in the context of selecting a jury in a death penalty case that Siegler wanted to remove a juror because he was a member of Lakewood Church and all members of Lakewood are "screwballs and nuts".
If you are not aware, Lakewood is supposedly the largest church in the United States. It's weekend attendance hovers around 50,000.
That's a lot of people for someone running for office to piss off.
This is the dramatics on Houston local news. The irony is that Mr. Rosenthal is in bigger trouble for something else:
He was also using his state computer, paid for by the residents of Harris County, for campaign work. Stuff like "come to the Bar-b-Que" and "buy a t shirt for your little ones". In Texas, this is a big no, no.
Forget offensive emails.
Forget computer porn.
Just don't solicit coworkers during campaign season.