Judge and Former Prosecutor of the Year Accused Of Withholding Evidence That Sent Innocent Man To Jail For 25 Years

Michael Morton, 57, spent nearly 25 years in prison for murdering his wife before he was able to force Texas authorities to finally test DNA evidence that proved his innocence. Now he is demanding that the prosecutor be held accountable for withholding evidence. The problem is that the then-Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, now a district judge in Georgetown (left).

Even after hundreds of people have shown to be wrongly convicted by DNA evidence, prosecutors continue to fight efforts of prisoners to test such evidence — even when they are willing to pay for the testing themselves.
In this case, Judge Anderson is accused of knowingly withholding exculpatory evidence that might have avoided an innocent man spending 25 years in jail for killing his wife.

For his part, Judge Anderson is contesting the authority of the court to investigate his work as a prosecutor. After long denying the right to the evidence by Morton, he is now arguing that he also lacks any right to investigate the withholding of the evidence.

Anderson’s bio on the court notes that he was selected as “Prosecutor of the Year” and “Outstanding Prosecutor Upholding Victims’ Rights.”

Every state should guarantee the testing of DNA evidence in major felony cases and allow for private testing in all cases at the cost of the accused. Notably, last year, a Texas state committee looked at the state’s first 39 DNA exonerations and found seven involved evidence suppression or other prosecutorial misconduct.

Source: LA Times as first seen on ABA Journal

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47 thoughts on “Judge and Former Prosecutor of the Year Accused Of Withholding Evidence That Sent Innocent Man To Jail For 25 Years

  1. Maybe he can go to being “Inmate of the Month”…If he withheld it and I am sure he did….he should be disbarred….but… surprisingly in Texas if you meet the qualifications of judge the day elected….then you may serve out your term…..

  2. I wish I understood the mindset that allows people to act this way. It seems they just want to convict somebody & are not that concerned that it be the perp.

    He has committed 2 crimes every time he does this. Besides the crime of sending an innocent man to jail there is the crime that the real bad guy is still out there to offend again.

  3. Why would any state refuse to test the DNA when it could prevent someone from being wrongly convicted? The answer lies in the head of the “prosecutor of the year”! Are they afraid of what the test may show? Yes again.

  4. Barry Scheck…..isn’t that the same guy on OJ’s dream team…His named is mentioned in the main article…

  5. Barry Scheck probably knows more about DNA than any lawyer in the world. His knowledge is encyclopedic and he can more than hold his own with experts when when it comes to analyzing evidence and testimony involving DNA.

  6. AY, Barry Schenk I believe is one of the founders of the Innocence Project. If he’s not the founder I know he does work for them.

  7. OS,

    On another point we agree…he also is a professor…..Knowing Williamson County well….But for Scheck being on the team they would probably figure out a way to sweep this under the rug…or bury them…..

  8. It’s because court is a game to 99.999% of the prosecutors. Its about getting a win in court to solidify and enhance their political power. It’s rarely about justice although they bastardize justice by advertising their wins no matter how they got them.

  9. “I wish I understood the mindset that allows people to act this way. It seems they just want to convict somebody & are not that concerned that it be the perp. ”

    I know quite a bit about this, as I have watched many episodes of ‘Law and Order’.

    I think you have put your finger on the fundamental flaw inherent in the adversarial system of justice in our country. The prosecution need only present a case strong enough to convict ,, they have little or no incentive to suffer a standard of certainty. There are no “p”-values attached to a prosecution.

    There is a case to be made, forgive the pun, that in this, and in its reverence for precedent, jurisprudence is anti-scientific.

  10. The judicial system should be beyond reproach but I get the impression some judges think this is synonmous with abopve the law.

    Every single case of such outrages should result in disbarment at the very least for the guilty parties as clearly the judicial system is incapable of self governance.

  11. Oro lee, if it happens all the time, it actually isn’t news. That’s like saying everytime I eat a meal, it’s news. This is a way of life for prosecutors, it’s not news. They railroad defendants daily.

  12. Yes, this does happen frequently. It would stop happening pretty quickly if criminal charges were levied against prosecutors who do it. It is only when the powerful realize they will be held accountable for their actions that they will clean up their act.

    It is evil to knowingly send an innocent person to prison. He should resign and face criminal charges.

  13. Could not have said it better myself. The powerful take advantage of the weak or poor and something really needs to be done about this. BUT money rules, and that is highly unlikely to happen.

  14. I am in a situation tryin to expose that very same thing but when you aren’t one of the powerful, NOBODY will listen to you.

  15. Sheck, Sheck, Sheck… Does anyone recall a quiet, unimposing figure sitting with OJ throughout the trial, never mentioned by name, who some might have thought to be OJ’s handler throughout the trial?

    That was Bob Blasier, out of Sacramento, who had been working DNA defenses long before Sheck made it as big an issue as it is today.

    To paraphrase Barbara Mandrell and George Jones, “Bob was DNA, when DNA wasn’t cool.”

  16. “Happens all the time. What makes this news?” -Oro Lee

    “What makes this news” is that it is news. We shouldn’t let it happen “all the time.” We need to say “no more” to corruption, fraud, theft… and all the things that for too long we’ve let pass as “business as usual.” This is one American who is sick of it…

    Glenn Greenwald addresses our two-tiered justice system in his new book “With Liberty and Justice for Some.” It’s well worth the read. Start prosecuting these guys. No more slaps on the wrist. These guys need to “do time” for their crimes. Jill said it well.

  17. Barry has done a lot of good in his Innocence Project, but I will never forget his representation of OJ. Barry threw sand in the already clueless OJ jury’s eyes on the issue of the accuracy of the DNA evidence in that trial. Guess Barry needed the money… but in the Juice Man’s case, Barry helped a guilty man go free. Read Vince Bugliosi’s book on the OJ Trial (forgot the title, but it’s good). Barry’s BS helped OJ walk.

    I believe that whenever DNA evidence exonerates an inmate, the “case” should be taken away from local prosecutors entirely and handed over to some sort of independent committee. This committee should have the sole power to decide whether to exonerate the inmate and prevent any further prosecution against him or her.

    Laymen have little enough respect for the law and when they see someone still sitting in jail because the local prosecutor (who usually isn’t even the same person who originally prosecuted the inmate) will not allow the case to be dropped despite of DNA exoneration, it turns the justice system into a joke.

  18. Amity – Unfortunately, the first “independent” committee to review the case is a group of 12, who can slop at the prosecutorial trough, or reject the State’s BS.

    The jury is not the group that impartially decides the case, but the 12 who either (1) weren’t smart enough to evade service; (2) had nothing better to do; or (3) were destined to be a tool of either side…

    Cynically yours with 21 years and one day of defense-PI work,

    Bob

  19. I believe it to be better for 2 guilty men to go free than for 1 innocent man to go to jail. For it to work we must trust in our system, and nothing hurts than more than an innocent man going to jail.

    Prosecutors always pander to politics. Going over the top to take down Grandma’s growing pot to pay for their medical bills and sticking it to the downtrodden to make a ‘tough on crime’ name for themselves. Then there are prosecutors like the one in Wisconsin who will charge 6 year olds with felony sexual crimes for playing doctor with influential politician’s children, while letting the other childrens’ indiscretions fly.

    They are out to make a name for themselves, and in order to do that they simply cannot let an apparently guilty individual go free…but we all know apparent guilt isn’t always true guilt.

    My thought on cases as such, if a prosecutor or other individual willingly withholds evidence that sends an innocent individual to jail, that prosecutor should serve twice that innocent’s jail time. Of course, it would be hard to prove, but in some cases it would be easy… Make an example of bad prosecutors.

  20. “Even after hundreds of people have shown to be wrongly convicted by DNA evidence…”

    I think you might want to reword that.

  21. This former prosecutor should not be able to hide within judicial robes from the proper consequences of his misconduct as a prosecutor.
    It is not the prosecutor’s but the judge’s place to determine what evidence should or should not be presented in court.
    If the accused believes that evidence should be brought before the court and the prosecutor does not, they have the judicial process to settle the controversy. If the prosecutor possesses that discretion, there is no appeal as neither the court nor the defense even knows the evidence exists.

  22. It’s mind-numbing to me how this judge could even attempt to claim he has some sort of right to deny the defendant anything. What the hell happened to our so-called “justice” system? I feel more and more oppressed every day from reading articles like this. I’m so sick of the forced conformity in this country. The general population wants to think that this kind of thing can’t happen to them – because they’re the “good” people. On the brighter side, it makes me look forward to the apocalypse/Armageddon. I guess we’ll see who the “good” people are then. What’s that saying – the only thing that has to happen for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Guess that means we gotta just keep trying, folks :)

  23. Oh, and I guess I didn’t specify – IMHO, if all that is stated in this article is true – this judge/former prosecutor should be convicted of attempted murder or something else severe enough to send the message – IF YOU WORK IN THIS FIELD AND YOU DISGRACE THE HONOR/INTEGRITY OF YOUR POSITION, YOU SHOULD BE HELD DOUBLY ACCOUNTABLE. I feel the same toward cops. They should have no right to privacy if they are arresting someone. And they should be held more (doubly) accountable when they break the law themselves.

  24. The problem with the prosecutorial misconduct thing is that all the kinds of prosecutorial misconduct are well recognized, and even their sequelae in our society are recognized, but they are never punished, and there is no liability on the party of a prosecutor OR A JUDGE who engages in corruption, misconduct, etc. etc. etc. [and there are a LOT OF ETCETERAS!] and in our culture, where there is no liability, there is no accountability. The first thing I would try to work with is SHAME, but these folks, of course, “DO NOT SHAME EASY.”

    If every citizen appointed himself or herself an advocate of the innocent who are wrongly convicted, and tried every whichway to shame those who caused something like that to happen, pretty soon we would start seeing some changes. The fact is, of course, that most people don’t even suspect the massive breakdown of the system that has led to this situation, and if you explained it to them carefully they would not only disbelieve you, they would try to hurt you.

    I’m done. There is no way to re-establish trust in these miscreants who hold the power in our judicial and law enforcement systems. They have guns.

  25. Roger Lambert
    1, December 21, 2011 at 9:12 am
    I know quite a bit about this, as I have watched many episodes of ‘Law and Order’

    ==================================================

    that’s my alma mater

    plus i stayed at a holiday inn express last night

  26. Why should the states pay for DNA testing only in major felony cases? Is it okay to send innocent people to prison for just a couple of years because they cannot afford a DNA test?

  27. Your post put tears in my eyes because this thing has happened to me. I too, have been denied the right to prove my innocense on a DV assault that I did not commit. If a defendant has not been denied the right to prove, no one has any idea what that person is going through. IT IS TOUGH!!!

  28. Powerful stuff!!!!! Also very true. Justice in this country is about money, not innocense of guilt. If you are a Judge or Prosecutor in this country, you can’t have shame or else you’d lose your job. These people sleep easy at night KNOWING they’ve probably put someone in jail that is innocent. If they broke the “code” of what they do, they know profit in their job would go down and that, They can’t have. So to keep getting their raises every year they continue to run the “system” as it is.

  29. Where should I start?

    Chief,
    “No punishment for things like this gives people the right to do this.”

    Nothing gives anyone the right to do this. First of all. prosecutors, courts, and Judges have no rights. Rights belong to the people. What all government representatives have is Responsibility. And so many of them fail to meet their responsibilities under the law that the Judicial system has become a Travesty. The thought of anyone; Innocent or Guilty, trusting their life to the like of these criminals is repulsive.

    Heide
    IF YOU WORK IN THIS FIELD AND YOU DISGRACE THE HONOR/INTEGRITY OF YOUR POSITION, YOU SHOULD BE HELD DOUBLY ACCOUNTABLE.

    This field no longer has any Honor or Integrity. If indeed it ever did. This is not an isolated case. This happens everyday. Not every case ends up sending a man to prison for 25 years but it happens all over our country and of course it is encouraged by the very nature of the system itself. The goal of the Judicial system should be to find the truth. An adversarial system such as the one we now have, sets up all sorts of situations where a prosecutor or Judge or even a Defence Attourney might be tempted to forgoe the truth for the convenient or the politically advantagious.

    Henry,
    “Is it okay to send innocent people to prison for just a couple of years because they cannot afford a DNA test?”

    Sure it is Henry. Don’t You watch Law and order? Prosecutors are willing and Defence Attourneies are willing and the Judges are willing to offer and take “Good Deals”. You know. “Well, we know you’re innocent Henry but if we go to court and the Jury finds you guilty; it could mean 25 years. They’re offering 15 years.” What a deal. Fifteen years of your life; or two years; it doesn’t matter. One day is to long to spend behind bars for a crime you did not committ. I have often wondered if I would not prefer them to go ahead and execute me rather than spend fifteen years in prison. Actually; at my age; in my health the sentence would be “Life” even if it were ten years so what the hell. Do me. Of course it would take at least 20 years for the State of maryland to get around to killing me anyway. And. i expect there would be the public outcry from those who can’t understand me feeling that way. But never the less it is my preference. Death is quick. never quick enough but alot quicker than fifteen years.

    Al,
    “This former prosecutor should not be able to hide within judicial robes from the proper consequences of his misconduct as a prosecutor.”

    So true. Yet; he is able to do just that. He is able to do that because the Judicial system has “Mad” influence with the Legislative system as most Legislators were formerly involved in the Juducial System in one way or another before going into politics.

    They are; therefore able to get laws passed that protect them from just such actions. The system considers that this Judge has done a good job. He has fulfilled the most important purpose of the system…………Well first you must forget what you have been taught about our Judicial System and its purpose and goals. What you were taught was a lie. Our system hasn’t been focused on Justice for a long time if it ever was.

    The goal of the system as it exists is multi-faceted.
    1) To provide the impression to the public that crime is being curtailed by the actions of the system.
    2) To provide a sufficient number of convicts to fill the rosters of the slave system with in the Jusdicial system. States save billions of dollars each year by using prisoner to perform industrial and other work for the benefit if the State. If they lose this ability by say; actually incarcerating only those who can be proven guilty; the State would lose out big time and would then look bad; very bad.
    3) To provide job security for a multitude of Government workers. Police, Prosecutors, Judges, Baillifs, Court Reporters, and the variety of other people who are a part of the process of arresting, prosecuting, incarcerating and misusing the people of our country.
    All of these workers are encouraged to chose and arrest people based on whatever evidence they can find, plant, or fabricate in order to justify their job. It is alot easier to arrest the first guy who squints and make a case against him that to actuall do the work of finding the guilty party. And so much faster as well. This allows you to arrest more people and your bosses like that. It makes them look like they are doing their job. i think the recent actions of the Police in various cities of this country shows the attitude quite well.
    Do you suppose those cops who beat, pepper sprayed, and shot protesters with rubber bullets (a misleading moniker at best) were concerned with the legality of the protesters actions? Do you suppose they were concerned about protecting the rights of the protesters? Or whether the peole they picked to abuse were guilty of anything? It looks to me like these brave protectors of the peole and justice chose people based on how easy it would be to pummel them to the pavement and drag them off i.e. young girls and women and those too thin and frail to fight back. If you havn’t seent the video of the marine sergent standing up to these Fascists and demanding they explain their actions after they had just finished beating siome folks who jus happened to be passing. They had no connection to the protest. Just another chance to whip the shit out of another American to show who holds the reigns of power in the country.

    To conclude I would just say that the system can not be fixed. It must be replaced. The criteria for the position of Judge and Prosecuter must be changed. The way they are elected and appointed must be changed. They must be held accountable and the burden of proof must actiually be on them. All former cases where the defendant is still living and incarcerated must be reviewed for possible DNA evidence or the possibility of improper actions on the part of the Government. Penalties need to be revisited. Even for serious crime where the proof is clear. I haven’t given much thought to the details of that revisitation but it must be done. After we free everyone who is in jail falsely or for a crime that should not be a crime; there will be alot of room and money available to institute a system that gives real opportunity for rehabilitation and reintroduction to society. rather than the system we have now where recidivism is the goal and sustainence of the system.

  30. Sorry folks. I mean no disrespect to the many fine attournies out there who work tirlessly in search of Justice. I sometimes forget you guys are all lawyers and such. But you know i love you guys…………….right?……………………………well, right? Fine then go ahead and take Offence. You can take the Gate too if it makes you feel better. While I’m at it; I hope everyone here at the JT site and it’s commenters as well have a Great Christmas. here’s my address if you want to send a gift. No way. I’m not making it any easier than i have to for the Death Squad to find me. Now back to the comment.

    Certainly there must also be some honorable Prosecutors and Judges. I’ve never encountered them but just as the hundreds of billions of Galaxies make the probability high that we are not alone in the Universe; the huge number of these guys required to keep their Personal Agrandisement Society functioning make it almost a certainty.

    So, there you are. Essays lend themselves to generalisasion; especially where the numbers of individuals is so large and the corruption so deep but then those who are not part of this corruption will understand that because they will probably agree with me and will know about whom I speak.

    Thanks for all your efforts to educate me and entertain me and especially those who acknowledge when I say something you agree with.

  31. They do it and there is no punishment so they FEEL they have the right to do it. As for the “rights” belonging to the people. If you are ever in front of a judge say that and see where that will get you. I do agree with you that the “Justice System” is a joke and as long as we do nothing to change it, it ll remain a damn joke.

  32. i know of a female judge that withheld so much evidence in a young mans case that the jury had no choice but to covect. THIS JUDGE DID IT TWICE, to the same man. I can’t remember her name. The young man had married a stripper, who had set up the husband before the exict same way. Exict same way. The daughter 11 feared her mother, so she told me. The wifes, girl freinds says that she loved to destroy men. No jury in the world would have convicted, if the evedience had been heard. That young man was my son , It has been over 4 years now. I wonder how many eviel judges are out there. I’ve been going insane, wishing I could do something. She would like to put me in jail, but she can find nothing on me, thank GOD. She is above the the law, or so it seems. I really don’t expect anyone to care. Anyway this is what I believe with all my heart. May GOD bless whomever reads this,and sence this is My opinion, I pray that I don;t get into any legal problems. Thats all i need as my wifes health is failing, and so is mine.

  33. How about a story on the way Connecticut Judges, mprosecutrs, and States Attorneys are targeting black me to incarcerate for their own financial gain…

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