In this week's feature story about the questionable legal tactics of prosecutor Shelley Hallman, we include a rather unprofessional internal e-mail she dispatched to her colleagues:
"In the past couple of months, there have been several defense attorneys who have accused prosecutors of misconduct during closing arguments," she wrote in an e-mail from February 2004. "Robert Burns is notorious about this. Just now in trial Lena Levario pulled the same shit. I think we all should be aware of which defense attorneys do this and be prepared to address such unfounded allegations before they even open their big fat mouths."
We did not, however, have a chance to include this in our story: Hallman's e-mail came the same day Levario beat her in court. (Hallman was not serving as the lead prosecutor, but she was sitting in second chair supervising the trial, according to Levario.) Levario's client was charged with molesting his granddaughter, and even though the girl repeatedly retracted her allegations, the defense attorney felt the prosecution was pressuring her to return to her earlier allegations. Levario made light of this during the case, the jury deliberated, and her client was found not guilty.
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Later that day, one of Hallman's fellow prosecutors showed Levario Hallman's e-mail blasting both her and defense attorney Burns. She took the e-mail to the judge on the case, who assured her she did nothing wrong.
"I was shocked that she would send it out to all the district attorneys," Levario says of Hallman, who married Republican candidate for District Attorney Toby Shook earlier this year.
Both Burns and Levario are running for criminal judgeships and have a strong chance of winning. They were two of only a handful of Democrats to have garnered the endorsements of The Dallas Morning News, and most of the party faithful view them as their brightest hope. It also helps that unlike, say, Sally Montgomery, they have the respect of their fellow attorneys, but here we digress. The real question is can Hallman ever try a case in any of their courts? We're not questioning the two candidates ability to be impartial, but it's a safe bet Hallman will. At the very least, Burns and Levario are two judges who aren't going to put up with any of the "same shit."
Mike Carnes, the First Assistant District Attorney and Hallman's supervisor, told the paper version of Unfair Park he saw nothing wrong with his prosecutor's e-mail about the two defense attorneys, "except for the expletive." Here's guessing Carnes mightl have a different take early next month. --Matt Pulle