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DA Watch: Tarrant County DA Seeks Recusal Again in Death Row Case Due to Prosecutor Misconduct

Earlier this year, we posted about the Tarrant County DA recusing itself from the Michael Toney case after it was revealed that the District Attorney had failed to turn over extremely important evidence to the defense that might well have kept Toney from being convicted, much less sentenced to Death Row.

In the Toney case, it took 23 years before the Fort Worth District Attorney’s Office came forward and revealed that these documents were intentionally withheld from the defense. What district attorney was involved? Mike Parrish.

On Friday, a hearing was held before visiting District Judge Steven Herod in another case Mike Parrish prosecuted during his tenure at the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office. Another case where a sentence of death was given.

In that hearing, Judge Herod heard evidence that Mike Parrish withheld evidence from the defense counsel for Death Row inmate Chelsea Richardson — and also interfered with her attorney-client privilege. Two biggies. Two big No-No’s.

This time, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office may get removed from the case, but they’re not doing so voluntarily: the Judge isn’t hearing a motion to recuse this time, as the DA filed in the Toney case. This time, Richardson’s defense counsel is bringing the matter before the court.

What was withheld in the Richardson case?

The psychological report of a co-defendant, which would have been favorable to Chelsea Richardson, who was portrayed at her trial as the Evil Mastermind in the murder of her boyfriend’s parents. (Guess the psych report helped with the argument that the co-defendant wasn’t so easily manipulated….)

How was the attorney-client privilege purportedly interfered with by the DA?

Richardson’s attorney is also contending that Mike Parrish did not reveal to anyone — much less the judge — that Parrish was getting scoop under the table about the case from Richardson’s defense attorney’s paralegal. Whoa Nellie.

Tarrant County DA Isn’t Going Away Quietly Into That Good Night

This time, unlike the Toney case where the Tarrant County DA filed its own motion to remove itself from the case, the DA isn’t admitting Richardson was wronged.

At the hearing, according to media reports, Tarrant County ADA Charles Mallin argued that Michael Toney “was a completely different matter” — and that situation was irrelevant to Richardson. They argued to the visiting judge that there isn’t proof that the DA’s Office has any conflict upon which to base a removal.

Let’s see what Judge Herod thinks about that ….


Houston Chronicle

Fort Worth Star Telegram

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