Lawsuit filed against Rosenthal, Thomas

February 16, 2008 4:15:10 PM PST
The resignation of Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal was released just a few hours after the filing of a new lawsuit asking for Rosenthal and Sheriff Tommy Thomas to be removed from office. The lawsuit threatened to add to the district attorney's legal troubles. Now, he won't have to deal with it in court. Still, it makes some serious allegations against Rosenthal and Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas. [READ FULL LAWSUIT]

"If we can't get justice, at least we can get new people In their office," said Houston attorney Lloyd Kelley.

Kelley made that statement hours before Rosenthal announced his resignation. In a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of his client, Eric Ibarra, Kelley called for the removal of Rosenthal and Sheriff Thomas.

"Apparently in Harris County, you can do anything you want if you're the friend of the sheriff or the friend of the DA, and if you're the friend of both, you're golden," said Kelley.

The filing comes after another delay in Eric and Sean Ibarra's federal lawsuit against the sheriff's department.

"We're going to do whatever it takes to go with this process and do what we've got to do in a lawful manner and speak out against what we feel is wrong," said Ibarra.

In the petition, Kelley says Rosenthal should be removed for intoxication, incompetence and misconduct. He goes on to list incompetency and/or official misconduct as reasons Thomas should be removed.

Regarding claims of intoxication, the pleading reads, "Upon information and the belief, from 2001 to 2007, Mr. Rosenthal drinks at the office while performing his duties and may be intoxicated when making his decisions as district attorney."

The sheriff responded briefly and said, "It's obvious what Mr. Kelley is trying to do. He's trying to influence the impending lawsuit."

In the 10-page document, the sheriff's accused of accepting gifts and breaking the law. Even though Rosenthal is now gone from office, the lawsuit doesn't automatically go away.

"If the sheriff's still around, it's a viable lawsuit, but nobody knows what's going to happen to the sheriff either," said KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy.

It's important to reiterate that portions of this lawsuit will stand for now. Other portions will become moot. Those that involve Rosenthal will be taken out. But those calling for the removal of Sheriff Tommy Thomas will stay in.

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