What happened next landed the D.A. in the hot seat for contempt of court. Last November, the prosecutor who serves as general legal counsel for the D.A.’s office personally informed Rosenthal that the court had issued the order for the e-mail messages. The discussion took place in Rosenthal's office. Rosenthal gave him permission to check the index of e-mails on the District Attorney's computer to get a sense of the scope of what they might have to produce.
That same afternoon, Rosenthal recently admitted, he sat in front of his computer and went through around four thousand e-mail messages, selectively deleting more than 2,000. Unfortunately for Rosenthal, his general counsel provided a copy of the screen shots of the e-mail index to the plaintiffs’ lawyer. When the e-mail messages Rosenthal finally produced fell short—by a couple thousand—of the number displayed on the index of messages, all hell broke loose.