Lew's AUTHOR BLOG

* 12/19/11 … Texas man exonerated after 25 years … judge rules prosecutor had withheld significant evidence

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 25, 2012

  • A Texas man wrongfully convicted in 1987 of murdering his wife is scheduled to be officially exonerated on Monday.
  • lawyers for the man, Michael Morton … are expected to file a request for a special hearing to determine whether the prosecutor broke state laws or ethics rules by withholding evidence that could have led to Mr. Morton’s acquittal 25 years ago.
  • The prosecutor (in Mr. Morton’s case), Ken Anderson, a noted expert on Texas criminal law, is now a state district judge.
  • The filing by Mr. Morton’s lawyer, John Raley, and attorneys from the Innocence Project …will ask the court to determine that there is probable cause to believe that Mr. Anderson withheld reports that the judge in the 1987 trial had ordered him to turn over.
  • In August (2011), however, a different judge ordered the record unsealed, and Mr. Morton’s lawyers discovered that Mr. Anderson had provided only a fraction of the available evidence.
  • Missing from the file was the transcript of a telephone conversation between a sheriff’s deputy and Mr. Morton’s mother-in-law in which she reported that her 3-year-old grandson had seen a “monster” — who was not his father — attack and kill his mother.
  • Also missing were police reports from Mr. Morton’s neighbors, who said they had seen a man in a green van repeatedly park near their home and walk into the woods behind their house.
  • And there were even reports, also never turned over, that Mrs. Morton’s credit card had been used and a check with her forged signature cashed after her death.
  • If the court of inquiry ends with a finding that Mr. Anderson committed serious acts of misconduct by concealing material evidence, it could lead to disciplinary action by the state bar association and possibly even a criminal prosecution.
  • Experts, however, are skeptical that Judge Anderson could face serious punishment or disbarment, even if the court were to decide that he had committed malfeasance.
  • While withholding material evidence intentionally can get a lawyer disbarred, Ms. Klein said, “It’s extremely unlikely.”

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/us/texas-man-seeks-inquiry-after-exoneration-in-murder.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

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