December 6, 2011


Verbatim, from the Burnt Orange Report. More ambitious DA's behaving badly.

Hiding the Ball - The Morton case in Williamson County

by: Edward Garris

Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 10:10 AM CST

In recent years DNA evidence has made painfully clear the extent of wrongful convictions meted out by the criminal justice system with a corresponding number of innocent parties wrongfully imprisoned.  This disturbing trend hit close to home recently in the case of Michael Morton. On October 4, Morton was released from prison after serving 25 years for the 1986 murder of his wife; he was convicted in 1987 in Williamson County [Texas] and finally exonerated of the crime with DNA evidence this year.   The incarceration of an innocent man for a quarter of a century would be sufficiently troubling.  Even more disconcerting would be learning that the prosecution put that innocent man behind bars, knowing or likely knowing that he was innocent and hiding evidence that would clear his name simply to secure a conviction.

The Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability (TCLA) has come forward and allegedly exactly that.  

On November 28, the TCLA filed three grievances with the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas, complaining of Ken Anderson, Mike Davis, and John Bradley.  Anderson was the District Attorney for Williamson County, Texas, in 1987, and prosecuted Morton for the murder of his wife.  In 1987, according to the grievance, Davis was the chief Williamson County Assistant District Attorney, and assisted Anderson in the prosecution of Morton.  Bradley is the current Williamson County District Attorney, and the grievance cited his "suppression of evidence and the cover up of illegal and unethical conduct by the prosecutors who tried the case."  In short, Bradley was joined as a respondent for attempting to block the DNA evidence that was brought forward and ultimately used to free Morton. The grievance cites four pieces of evidence which were recently found in files in Williamson County and which would have been critical to Morton's defense but which were withheld.  As set out in the grievances, they are:

"A typewritten memo to the lead investigator of the murder disclosing a telephone tip that a $20 check that had been made out to the victim was cashed nine days after the murder;

A handwritten telephone message to the lead investigator disclosing that the victim's Visa card had apparently been recovered at a San Antonio store after the murder;

A sheriff's deputy report, written one day after the murder, stating that a neighbor described seeing a man park a green van on the street behind the house where the victim was murdered on several occasions;

A transcribed tape recording in which the victim's mother tells the lead investigator that the victim's child (who was at the house when the murder occurred) stated that Mr. Morton was not at the murder scene when the murder occurred."

The grievances also noted two other concerns: the discrepancy between the trial testimony of the medical examiner and Anderson's representation of that testimony during closing arguments; and the fact that Anderson was ordered to produce the entire four-inch thick lead investigator's report, but produced only a five page report.

The grievances cite the violation of eleven rules of professional conduct by Anderson and Davis, and ten by Bradley. In all three instances, they seek disbarment of the three attorneys for undermining "the integrity and fairness of our state's criminal justice system" and destroying "the life, liberty, and happiness of an innocent man" and "to partially counterbalance the grievous wrongs they have inflicted, the unspeakable injustice and undeserved punishments they have imposed and maintained against Mr. Morton, and the severe damage they have caused to the criminal justice system in Texas."

Anderson was deposed on October 31.  The transcript of his testimony can be seen here.

Copies of the grievances can be viewed here.


One Fly said...

Always the same old shit! Whether it's war for lies or stories like this and they are everywhere and a lot of them. Hold these people accountable and crimes like this will slowly dry up.

The bush team took accountability off the table - it's still off and there are no plans of putting it on the menu.

And they wonder why things don't work.