Texas District Attorneys – Houston and Dallas – In The News – Choices and Consequences?

Every choice we make has a consequence. It seems that two Texas District Attorneys are making the news for two very different reasons and it’s all because of their choices.

First let’s go to Houston:

It’s a few days after Christmas and what to my wondering eyes do I see, but the Houston DA playing e-mail with (well his secretary it seems).


According the the AP Texas news, Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal apologized to his family, friends and co-workers when his affectionate relationship with his secretary was released from e-mails he sent.

Before we move through the story…the first point of attention here: E-mail doesn’t go away and one should not say something in an e-mail that they would not want to have made public – or else, you might find yourself in the same hot water that this Houston, TX District Attorney has found himself in.

Here’s a link to the full story:


Although the DA called the release of e-mails, obtained as part of a federal civil rights lawsuit, “bare knuckle politics.” According the the AP article:

“the district attorney issued a written statement saying the release has been “wake-up call to me to get my house in order, both literally and figuratively.”

“I understand that I have said some things that have caused pain and difficulty for my family, my co-workers and friends,” Rosenthal said in the statement. “I deeply regret having said those things.”

None of the 51 e-mails between Rosenthal and Kerry Stevens are explicit, according to the Houston Chronicle, which obtained the documents before they were resealed. But they contain the phrase “I love you” more than a dozen times, and Rosenthal asks Stevens to let him hold her.

“The very next time I see you, I want to kiss you behind your right ear,” Rosenthal wrote Stevens in an e-mail dated Aug. 10, 2007.

“I always want to see you,” Rosenthal wrote in another e-mail. “You own my heart whether you want or not.”

Rosenthal said earlier this week he is not having an affair with Stevens. He said he had an affair with her in the 1980s when he was married to his first wife, but said the relationship did not lead to his divorce.”

Every choice has a consequence. In this case, the consequence thus far has been public embarrasment and pain to his family and himself.

Of course, there will likely be public outcry from his opponents. That’s to be expected. But the DA is human and subject to human feelings and emotions. The lesson for all is not so much what we think, but how we act on those thoughts. Ethics aren’t defined so much by our thoughts but mostly by our actions.

Now on to Dallas:

In this time of a constricting economy, it is important to pay your bills on time, especially if it’s your annual dues to retain your law license.


It seems that the Texas state bar suspended Craig Watkins’ law license for failing to pay his annual dues on time. Hum, a DA without a license – you gotta find some comedy in that.

Anyway, the story was reported on December 27th by the Dallas Morning News (a link to which follows)


Now, Mr. Watkin’s license has been reinstated after he learned that the amount had not been paid. According to the article written by Kevin Krause:

Mr. Watkins apologized for the lapse and said it won’t affect any criminal cases. But he was still under the impression as of Thursday afternoon that he hadpaid his annual bar dues back in September.

News of the suspension sent officials in his office and in other county offices scrambling for answers as to what it would mean.

All criminal indictments and plea bargains are issued in Mr. Watkins’ name.

“It’s a mistake that is embarrassing to me but doesn’t affect the citizens of Dallas County,” Mr. Watkins said.

Watkins has received national attention for talking about crime prevention and supporting using DNA evidence in overturning or reviewing old criminal convictions. In fact, Texas Lawyer named Craig Watkins “Impact Player of the Year.” Excerpts are reprinted below:

…Watkins has every intention of breaking with tradition. He is the first African-American elected district attorney in Texas history, the first Democrat elected Dallas County DA in 20 years, and the first Dallas County district attorney who, in less than a year, has radically altered the traditional law-and-order role of the prosecution.

…Watkins’ focus is as much on preventing crime as it is on prosecuting it. Taking a more holistic approach to his job, he speaks of re-entry programs for ex-inmates and drug treatment programs, as well as garnering the social-service energies of the community to prevent small-time crooks from becoming big-time crooks and to prevent citizens from becoming victims in the first place.

Hey Craig…you don’t need this kind of coverage especially since you do stand for justice. How about putting on your calendar now to pay your dues on time next year.

Remember – Every Choice Has A Consequence. As a business ethics speaker, I know all too well the effect that choices can have on one’s life. My best to both of these men as they have placed themselves on the line for law and justice. There jobs are hard and regardless of anyones political persuasion, we should support those who commit to public service.

Your comments are welcome.


3 Responses to Texas District Attorneys – Houston and Dallas – In The News – Choices and Consequences?

  1. Art Browning says:

    Here are some words from New Zealand’s predecessor to the Green Party, the Values Party, written in 1976:
    “Prisons isolate inmates from the community, and deprive them not only of freedom but also of their self-respect and humanity. This makes it difficult for released prisoners to readjust to society and increases, rather than decreases, the possibility that they will offend again. If a law-breaker must be imprisoned, the only punishment inflicted by society should be the deprivation of freedom, for this is the most valued of human rights. Emphasis should be placed on rehabilitation and on training offenders to live within the accepted norms of society. Alternatives should be found to prisons, and prisons themselves made as congenial and normal as possible, to reduce unrest and aid rehabilitation. The community should be encouraged to interact with prisons and other penal institutions.”

  2. Having been there (prison that is) let me say that prison in this country is a business. There is no practical emphasis on rehabilitation. Should rehabilitation take place it is due to the desire of the inmate. Otherwise, exit and re-entry into the system keeps the machine moving and the business fully staffed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The State Bar of California program for certifying legal specialists is a Supreme Court approved method of certifying attorneys as Family Law specialists. Attorneys are certified through a process which includes successful passage of a written examinat…

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