Thursday, April 18, 2013

Judge Ken Anderson: Texas; Court of Inquiry into his handling of Michael Morton's prosecution in 1986/7 resumes Friday April 19, 2013 at 1.00 PM. Former prosecutor is accused of withholding exculpatory information; Ruling considered likely. The Statesman.

STORY: "Anderson court of inquiry to resume in Morton case," by reporter Chuck Lindell, published in the Statesman on April 18, 2013.

GIST: "With his freedom and legacy stake, former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson returns to court Friday afternoon as the inquiry continues into his handling of Michael Morton’s prosecution in 1986-87. A ruling is considered likely. District Judge Louis Sturns, who is presiding over the court of inquiry, must determine whether there is reason to believe that Anderson violated state law by intentionally hiding favorable evidence from Morton and his trial lawyers. Such a ruling would require Sturns to issue a warrant for Anderson’s arrest, the first step toward a possible criminal trial. Sturns also must decide if Anderson should be held in contempt of court for allegedly lying to Morton’s trial judge. Such a finding could lead to jail time. Morton served almost 25 years in prison for the murder of his first wife, Christine, before he was exonerated in 2011.......... Courts of inquiry are rare and uniquely Texas proceedings that examine allegations of wrongdoing to determine if a state law has been broken. Such courts function somewhat like grand juries, which decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. The latest hearing begins at 1 p.m. in the same Georgetown courthouse where Anderson has served as a state district judge since 2002. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry after 16 years as Williamson County’s top prosecutor, where his tough-on-crime swagger meshed perfectly with the county’s law-and-order image. Morton’s 1987 trial was one of his earliest cases as district attorney. Lawyers involved in the court of inquiry declined to discuss what will take place at the hearing, and Sturns has not answered media inquiries since the Texas Supreme Court appointed him to lead the inquiry in early 2012. Sturns has had 10 weeks to wade through transcripts of more than 45 hours of testimony from February’s hearings, plus boxes of evidence from the trial and investigative files related to Christine Morton’s murder and hours of videotaped depositions by Anderson and others taken in 2011......... Rusty Hardin, a Houston lawyer acting in a role similar to a prosecutor, argued that the district attorney’s office under Anderson engaged in a “pattern and practice” of withholding favorable information from defense lawyers in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Hardin focused on two pieces of evidence that he said were never revealed to Morton’s trial lawyers: • A police report of a driver of a green van who appeared to have been watching the Morton home. • A transcript of a taped police interview in which Rita Kirkpatrick, the mother of murder victim Christine Morton, related a conversation she .had with the Mortons’ 3-year-old son Eric, who spoke of seeing a “monster” hurt his mother."

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