Newsmonger: CNN's solar hit job, 'Gloves are off' in judge race
Published: October 24, 2012
O'Connell, seriously outmatched by the Roman campaign's bank account and the campaign signs she's posted across the city, has so far failed to focus the race on two very public scandals that have put Roman (who failed to return calls for comment from the Current) on the defense perhaps now more than ever.
In 2007, the state's Fourth Court of Appeals delivered a scathing opinion saying Roman botched the sensational Asel Abdygapparova case, ordering a new trial for the convicted killer, now set for this December. Roman didn't face a challenger in 2008's general election. Abdygapparova, a Kazakhstan native and UTSA foreign-exchange student convicted for her role in the abduction and murder of Rosa Rosado, didn't get a fair trial, the justices ruled. They wrote: "This is clearly a case in which the absence of an impartial trial judge on the bench infected the entire trial process, robbing Abydgapparova of her basic protections and undermining the ability of the criminal trial to reliably serve its function as a vehicle for the determination of guilt or innocence."
"The Fourth Court was explicit in their opinion that one does not get a fair trial in Judge Roman's court," O'Connell said. His new campaign line? "I understand the difference between being a prosecutor and a judge. It's not clear Judge Roman does." Ouch.
Meanwhile, Roman's had to fight an ethics complaint from the local probation officer's union, filed last year with the state's Judicial Conduct Commission, claiming she used her office to score special treatment for her daughter. "You just can't do that, not when you're wearing a robe," O'Connell said.
O'Connell charges Roman runs her court like a "fiefdom," and has a reputation for being vindictive. "I've had numerous lawyers approach me and say, straight-up, they can't donate to my campaign for that very reason," he claimed. Hence the hard-time fundraising, he says. After winning the May primary, O'Connell had just over $2,500, while Roman sat on over $30,000. O'Connell raised $10,950 since the summer, Roman raised $16,625, according to campaign finance forms filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.
While O'Connell insists "signs don't win elections," and points to his backing from the local police and fire unions, he says he plans to hammer Roman's apparent transgressions. "Before last night, I didn't want to focus on how bad she is, but on what I can bring to the table," he bristled when reached by phone. "Frankly, as of last night, the gloves are off as far as I'm concerned."
It's about time.