Chuck Rosenthal (district attorney)

Chuck Rosenthal (district attorney)
Chuck Rosenthal
District Attorney of Harris County, Texas
In office
January 1, 2001 – February 15, 2008
Preceded by Johnny Holmes
Succeeded by Kenneth Magidson
Personal details
Born February 7, 1946 (1946-02-07) (age 65)
Alice, Jim Wells County, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cindy Rosenthal
Residence Houston, Texas
Alma mater Baylor University and South Texas College of Law
Religion Baptist

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



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.[1]

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.[1]

On March 26, 2003, he argued before the Supreme Court of the United States in Lawrence v. Texas that laws against sodomy are constitutional. The Court disagreed with him, holding 6-3 that prosecutions for private sexual conduct violates the United States Constitution.[2]

Rosenthal is currently married to Cindy Rosenthal,[3] a retired FBI Special Agent.[1]

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[4] 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."[5] 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.[6] 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.[7][8]

Quanell X called for his resignation and organized a rally that took place outside the county courthouse January 24, 2008.[9]

Other controversies involving Chuck Rosenthal included:

  • Multiple Houston-area community groups called for Rosenthal's resignation,[10] as well as the resignation of Harris County sheriff Tommy Thomas for similarly racist e-mails.[11] 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."[12]
  • 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.[13][14]
  • 32 indictments were thrown out due to a paperwork snafu under Rosenthal's watch.[15]
  • Approved a former lover's $11,000 raise[16]
  • On 28-March-2008, Rosenthal was found in contempt of court for destroying 2,500 e-mails subpoenaed in a federal court case.[17]
  • 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.[18]

On February 15, 2008, Rosenthal resigned shortly after a lawsuit was filed by attorney Lloyd Kelley, seeking to remove Rosenthal from office on the grounds of official misconduct, incompetency or intoxication.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Rosenthal, Chuck. "Re-Elect Chuck Rosenthal for Harris County District Attorney". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  2. ^ "Lawrence and Garner v. Texas". Retrieved 2011-05-18. 
  3. ^ Rosenthal, Cindy (2008-01-25). "Rosenthal's wife responds". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  4. ^ Rosenthal, Chuck (2008-02-15). "Open letter from Chuck Rosenthal". Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  5. ^ Shay, Miya (2008-02-15). "Rosenthal Resigns!". Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  6. ^ Oberg, Ted (2008-01-30). "Why Rosenthal had to turn over email". Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ Stiles, Matt; Rogers, Brian (2008-01-10). "Rosenthal could lose his job or face criminal charges". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  8. ^ Rogers, Brian; Bernstein, Alan and Stiles, Matt (2008-01-09). "More e-mails emerge in Harris County DA scandal". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  9. ^ Casimir, Leslie (2008-01-12). "Black leaders urge Rosenthal to step down". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  10. ^ James, Eric (2008-01-11). "More calls for Rosenthal's resignation". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  11. ^ Willis, Carl (2008-01-24). "Ministers Against Crime Want Sheriff To Resign". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  12. ^ Peterson, Liz Austin (2008-02-01). "Prosecutor's contempt hearing pauses abruptly". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-02-01. [dead link]
  13. ^ Archer, Phil (2008-01-16). "State Begins Rosenthal E-Mail Investigation". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  14. ^ Bernstein, Alan (2008-01-15). "Challenge to Rosenthal ballot pullout is now unlikely". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  15. ^ Associated Press (2008-01-23). "Judge disbands grand jury". Retrieved 2008-01-25. [dead link]
  16. ^ Archer, Phil (2008-01-24). "DA Approved Former Lover's $11,000 Raise". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  17. ^ "Rosenthal found in contempt of court". 2008-03-28. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  18. ^ McGuire, Lee (2008-02-04). "Taxpayers' tab for Rosenthal’s defense: $400 an hour". Archived from the original on 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  19. ^ Rogers, Brian (2008-02-16). "Rosenthal cites prescription drugs in decision to quit DA post". Retrieved 2008-02-16. 

External links

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