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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ex-prosecutor jailed for 10 days for withholding evidence after sending innocent man to prison for 25 years

Prosecutorial overreach story du jour - it's the first time in history a prosecutor has been jailed for withholding evidence. Not nearly enough, is it?

A former Texas district attorney agreed Friday to serve 10 days in jail for withholding evidence that could have stopped an innocent man from going to prison for nearly 25 years — apparently the first time a prosecutor has been sent to jail for concealing evidence helpful to the defense.

Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson agreed to a plea deal that will also require him to pay a $500 fine and complete 500 hours of community service after state District Judge Kelly Moore found him in contempt of court for telling a trial judge in 1987 that he had no exculpatory evidence to hand over to lawyers for Michael Morton, whose conviction in his wife's death was overturned in 2011.

Charges of tampering with evidence — which could have meant 10 years in prison — were dropped as part of the deal, under which Anderson will be disbarred.

Prosecutors are required by law to share any evidence they collect that could help the defense. But Anderson withheld two critical facts in his prosecution of Morton: that witnesses reported seeing a man park a green van nearby and walk into the woods near the Mortons' house and that Morton's 3-year-old son specifically said Morton wasn't at the scene. 
Michael Morton spent nearly 25 years in prison
after being convicted in his wife's beating death.

Morton was released from prison two years ago, when new DNA evidence proved his innocence. In March, a drifter named Mark Alan Norwood was convicted of beating Christine Morton to death her in bed based on the same evidence.

Michael Morton was in court for the hearing Friday in Georgetown. 

"My number one motivating factor here is that what happened to me will not happen to you," he said, addressing Anderson. "And by what happened today, we've succeeded."

Gerald Goldstein, an attorney for the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic affiliated with the Yeshiva University Law School, said Anderson's sentence, however brief, was precedent-shattering.

Gerald Goldstein, an attorney for the Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal clinic affiliated with the Yeshiva University Law School, said Anderson's sentence, however brief, was precedent-shattering.

"This is the first time in the country's history that a prosecutor has been found guilty of criminal contempt, will go to jail and be stripped of their law license," Goldstein told NBC station KXAN of Austin.

3 comments:

  1. Ten whole days? And lost his license? Stern stuff indeed, when compared to 25 years in jail.

    You would think the automatic sentence would be EXACTLY the amount of time the guy he railroaded had already served. Brings a whole new meaning to being sentenced to time served.

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  2. 10 days in jail. But it's not like he ruined the life of anyone important, a senator or celebrity or someone who went to school with Michele Obama. Just some prole.

    This is how our masters live. One day we will put them all against a wall.

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  3. Storm Saxon's Gall BladderNovember 12, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Mister Anderson runs for public office. I wonder how many votes were actually gained by one more conviction on his resume, how many votes are worth 25 years of someone else's life. Five hundred hours of community service indicates a year of your freedom is worth twenty hours of His weekend golf time. Thirty Months of your incarceration is worth one day of His. Mister Morton should be honoured that such a worthy lawyer even deigned to notice such a lowly peasant.

    Where, exactly, will Mister Anderson be serving this community service time?

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