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Chuck Rosenthal (district attorney)

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Preceded by  Johnny Holmes
Political party  Republican
Residence  Houston, Texas
Role  Lawyer
Succeeded by  Kenneth Magidson
Spouse(s)  Cindy Rosenthal
Name  Chuck Rosenthal
Party  Republican Party
Chuck Rosenthal (district attorney) truthinjusticeorghoustondajpg
Full Name  Charles A. Rosenthal
Born  February 7, 1946 (age 69) Alice, Jim Wells County, Texas (1946-02-07)
Alma mater  Baylor University and South Texas College of Law
Education  South Texas College of Law, Baylor University

Charles A. "Chuck" Rosenthal (born February 7, 1946) is an American lawyer who was formerly the District Attorney of Harris County, Texas, United States.


Life and career

Born in Alice, Texas, Rosenthal attended Houston public schools, received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University, and went to law school at South Texas College of Law. He served as Harris County assistant district attorney under Carol Vance starting in March 1977.

After his predecessor, Johnny Holmes, retired, Rosenthal was elected Harris County District Attorney after facing Pat Lykos, County Attorney Michael Stafford and many others in the Republican primary. He was re-elected in 2004.

On March 26, 2003, he argued before the Supreme Court of the United States in Lawrence v. Texas that laws against sodomy are constitutional. His performance was later described as "the worst oral argument in years", but some believe his lack of preparation reflected his lack of enthusiasm for the statute he was defending. The Court disagreed with him, holding 6-3 that prosecutions for private sexual conduct violates the United States Constitution.

Rosenthal is married to Cindy Rosenthal, a retired FBI Special Agent. He is a practicing Baptist.

On February 15, 2008, Chuck Rosenthal resigned as Harris County district attorney, following the filing of a lawsuit petitioning for his removal from office. The press release issued by Rosenthal suggests substance abuse played a part in his decision. Rosenthal's official release claims, "Although I have enjoyed excellent medical and pharmacological treatment, I have come to learn that the particular combination of drugs prescribed for me in the past has caused some impairment in my judgment." The same lawsuit also called for the removal of Sheriff Tommy Thomas.


In a federal court case, emails in the Harris County District Attorney's office were under subpoena. Some of those emails exposed his extramarital affair with his secretary as well as being found to be using government computers for campaigning and receiving and sending racist emails. After an emergency meeting with local GOP leaders, the GOP asked him to step aside and to not seek reelection. On January 4, 2008, he announced that he would not seek reelection, but would finish out his current term.

Quanell X called for his resignation and organized a rally that took place outside the county courthouse January 24, 2008.

Other controversies involving Chuck Rosenthal included:

  • Multiple Houston-area community groups called for Rosenthal's resignation, as well as the resignation of Harris County sheriff Tommy Thomas for similarly racist e-mails. Community groups are sensitive to racism because Rosenthal "presides over an office that sends more convicts to death row than any other prosecutor's office in the nation."
  • The Texas attorney general's office investigated whether e-mails discovered in the DA's county computer were evidence of criminal activity, such as Rosenthal's alleged use of public assets to engage in his now-withdrawn political re-election campaign.
  • 32 indictments were thrown out due to a paperwork snafu under Rosenthal's watch.
  • Approved a former lover's $11,000 raise
  • On 28-March-2008, Rosenthal was found in contempt of court for destroying 2,500 e-mails subpoenaed in a federal court case.
  • Harris County taxpayers paid US$400 per hour for attorney fees to represent Rosenthal in his contempt hearing. Although the contract was capped at US$50,000, taxpayers were expected to pay the full bill.
  • Refusal to sign an agreement between Venezuela and the United States to allow the extradition of Jesus Salazar, who is wanted for the October 1999 murder of 17-year-old Felicia Ruiz, in exchange for Salazar agreeing to a 30-year prison sentence instead of a life-term.
  • References

    Chuck Rosenthal (district attorney) Wikipedia

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