Monday, November 11, 2013

Ken Anderson: (Aftermath 3): Innocence Project co-Director Barry Scheck calls Anderson's plea a "historic precedent" which will enable every state and federal judge to issue similar orders to deter "those few prosecutors who would otherwise deliberately violate their ethical and legal duties." The Innocence Project also notes that an independent review of Anderson's cases to determine whether other people may have been wrongly convicted. (Cases in which former prosecutor John Bradley opposed DNA testing will also be reviewed).

RELEASE: "Former Williamson County prosecutor Ken Anderson enters plea to contempt for misconduct in Michael Morton's wrongful murder conviction,"  released by Paul Cates of the Innocence Project on November 8, 2013.

SUB-HEADING: Innocence Project and Texas Criminal Defence Lawyer's Association  will review Williamson County cases handled by former prosecutors Ken Anderson and John Bradley;

GIST:  “Today’s historic precedent demonstrates that when a judge orders a prosecutor to look in his file and disclose exculpatory evidence, deliberate failure to do so is punishable by contempt,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. “Every state and federal judge can issue such an order tomorrow and deter those few prosecutors who would otherwise deliberately violate their ethical and legal duties. After suffering 25 years in prison as an innocent man, Michael Morton has courageously fought to hold Ken Anderson accountable and to prevent anyone from being victimized by similar misconduct. Today was an important first step.” Morton spent 25 years in prison for his wife’s murder, while the real perpetrator, Mark Alan Norwood, went unapprehended. Norwood, who was eventually convicted earlier this year of murdering Christine Morton, has been indicted for committing a similar murder of Debra Baker in Austin two-and-a-half years after the Morton murder......In order to determine whether other people may have been wrongly convicted because of Anderson’s misconduct, the Innocence Project has partnered with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Innocence Project of Texas to coordinate an independent review of the cases that Anderson worked on during his tenure as Williamson County District Attorney. The groups will also review some of the cases handled by former prosecutor John Bradley, who fought efforts by the Innocence Project to secure the DNA testing that ultimately proved Morton’s innocence. In Bradley’s cases, the review will be limited to those where Bradley opposed DNA testing. Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty has also pledged her cooperation, by making the District Attorney’s Office’s case files available to the reviewers, and by providing access to any other law enforcement documents from the cases under review that might shed light on whether a wrongful conviction occurred. Duty has assigned First Assistant District Attorney Mark Brunner to serve as the liaison to the outside review process. “When an individual prosecutor engages in an egregious act of misconduct, their superiors should allow for an audit of other cases handled by that prosecutor in a way that is independent, external, and transparent. The number of prosecutors who deliberately break the rules is small, but history shows they tend to be repeat offenders. What the new Williamson County prosecutor is doing today should become a best practice adopted by prosecutors across the country,” added Scheck."

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