Texas Judge Under Investigation For Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct That Led To Innocent Man Being Sent To Jail 25 Years Ago

District judge Ken Anderson of Williamson County, Texas is now formally under investigation for his alleged role in a gross injustice as a prosecutor. It is an all-too-rare case where a former prosecutor is actually called to account for an injustice. In this case, an innocent man, Michael Morton (shown here), now 58, was wrongly convicted in 1987 for the murder of his wife. Prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence showing that his son clearly stated that it was not his father. Instead, they took a tragic murder of a mother and magnified it by incarcerating the grieving father. Anderson was later selected as “Prosecutor of the Year.” We previously discussed the case.

Christine Morton was found beaten to death in her bed in 1986. Police and prosecutors immediately focused on the husband and noted that he had left a note , Sheriff Boutwell was among the first at the scene. Mr. Morton has said that expressing disappointment that she had fallen asleep during a romantic interlude the night before. They did not seem to wonder why a killer would leave such a note if he had the wherewithal to commit the other acts of deception in the case.

Morton sat in prison for 25 years before he was exonerated. In the meantime, Anderson enjoyed a successful career and became a judge. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry in 2001.

In his 1997 book, “Crime in Texas: Your Complete Guide To the Criminal Justice System,” Anderson wrote “In reality, I don’t see much brilliance in the courtroom. Trials are won and the truth is exposed because of detailed, painstaking preparation done before the first witness is sworn in.”

While Anderson has “apologized,” he denies any wrongdoing. He insists that he did not know about the statement of the boy, which is curious since the boy was the eyewitness to the murder and said emphatically that it was not his father. It appears that the “painstaking preparation” did not include reading the account of the eyewitness in the case.

Source: New York Times

35 thoughts on “Texas Judge Under Investigation For Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct That Led To Innocent Man Being Sent To Jail 25 Years Ago

  1. In a just world, Anderson would automatically get 25 years in prison for his malfeasance and/or incompetence, but there is no justice in Texas. He’ll probably get a plaque or an award for meritorious service. Personally I hope the oh-so-soon-to-be-filed civil suit leaves him destitute, but again, this is Texas and as a prosecutor he enjoys basically limitless immunity for his crimes against others and his former office. He should be disbarred and removed from the bench.

  2. Williamson County in Texas is famed as a “law and order” county–even minor crimes get draconian sentences and you are most certainly guilty until proven innocent. If you’ve heard of the Willingham case–the father executed for starting a fire that killed his two children when fire science now shows it was an accidental blaze–when Rick Perry wanted to shut down the reinvestigation, he appointed the current Williamson DA, John Bradley, to head the panel. The DA promptly gave an interview where he labelled Willingham a “guilty monster” before shutting the investigative committee done before they ever held a meeting.

  3. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, Bradley was also the DA who fought for several years to prevent the Innocence Project from getting evidence and files to examine in the Morton case too.

  4. It appears that the “painstaking preparation” did not include reading the account of the eyewitness in the case.

    Well said.

  5. A common theme that I have been expressing here for years, is that the prosecutorial function of our criminal justice system is a political stepping stone, that provides incentive for unscrupulous people to build a conviction record that disregards innocence. This case bears that out and we see that Mr. Anderson prospered by pretending to be “tough on crime”. This appears to play well all over the country, but we see its apotheosis in Texas with its’ Christian Macho culture. I doubt this investigation will result in any real problems for Anderson, since that’s not the “Texan Way”, as shown in the Willingham case linked by SwM.

  6. So this Anderson is either grossly incompetent or he is just a liar. Anyway, he should not be a judge nor a prosecutor. Prosecutors get away with this stuff by the absurd “prosecutor immunity” defense that means even if prosecutors willfully withold evidence that would show innocense, they can’t be prosecuted. Maybe that changes, but then again, probably not.

  7. This is the sort of case that informs my world-view regarding the American justice system. Proportionality should not only extend to sentencing related to the severity of the crime, but it should also apply to the level of proof required related to the degree of trust granted to the accused.

    In short, ordinary Joes on the street have been granted no trust, so therefore they are not accused of betraying the justice system itself when they are charged with committimg a crime.

    When a prosecutor is commits a crime in the course of his professional conduct, he should face a more sever sentence and a lower threshold of proof required. Because he voluntarily entered into a profession that (should) carry these risks, he should only do so under the clear affirmation that his conduct will be held to a much higher standard than ordinary citizens.

  8. I think that he should do the same time as the wrongful conviction was….. Then again…..they would just destroy everything after a case is closed and appeals are final……

    You know even if this clown is disbarred…. He can still retain being a judge til the end of his term… Why…. Because he met the qualifications when he was elected….

  9. As the brother of a man shot and killed in Texas I can state there isn’t any justice in Texas. My brother’s killer was acquitted of murder, self-defense verdict, even though my brother was inside the house and unarmed while the killer was outside the house armed with a pistol. Turns out none of the witnesses could be located even though the witnesses lived around the corner from the police station. I guess my brother’s problem was that his uncle wasn’t a Texas Ranger.

  10. Janet Reno earned her political bones by prosecuting childcare businesses in Florida during the late 80s nursery school abuse witch hunts. She ruined many people in the process, but it worked…for her.

  11. Could there be some connection between the necessity of having political bones based upon the miscarriage of justice—–AND—-the quality of politicians who man our republic’s elected seats?

  12. Yes, idelalist, there could be. Unless you have a really, really strong belief that such things are just a mere coincidence, as in e.g., “exercises” taking place on the same date as 9/11, London bomb bings, even JFK’s fatal trip to Dallas. Seems to be a way to provide cover. Exercises/drills took place even right before the Sandy Hook event..or were they on the very day of the event? Can’t remember, but the point remains.

  13. bill mcwilliams, And that same Janet Reno had the Waco compound stormed on the pretext of saving the children..how did that work out?

  14. I hope the son (witness) sues the hell out of him for intentional tort, false imprisonment, deprivation of constitutional rights under color of state law (took away the boy’s father after he saw his mother killed) etc. etc. etc. It should be a story that hits the press and doesn’t go away until everybody’s seen real justice done. Federal prosecutors. Where are they? That guy orphaned the boy! Shame on him and all like him; they make our system a disgrace to the world.

  15. God will send the prosecutor to Hell. He will get to the Pearly Gates and Saint Peter will be playing golf. The stand-in, will be a Texas inmate erroneously convicted, now serving time in Heaven and tending to Saint Pete. The interview will not go well for this Judge/Prosecutor from bumfu Texas.

  16. The pearly gates to evil people will be the gates of hell that evil oppressors will not walk through because Gods glory will be like fire to them devouring them. Those that give fire will get fire. There is only one gate.

  17. Off topic, but important lessons for budding McCathyiites who prefer
    demonizing even fairly prominent news journalists who dare to question
    the government’s version of certain events.

    Please note that ALL I’m doing here is providing the link, so purge the urge to attack Me. Instead, do something useful, like examine the evidence, and
    save your hate bullets for someone else. Thank you.


  18. I will name no names, but will repeat this link until it is graven in stone.


    Á question only: Does training as a lawyer eliminate certain functions in the brain or only just give the capability to filter and mold reality to fit the legal model?

    There are some on this blog that while claiming that we are controlled from above are unwilling to provide hard proof or speculations. That may be a choice or not. I wish for meat, not just good writing. They poo-poo the conspiracy theories of others, but provide no substitute at that level of complexity.

    Whether prosecutorial injustice is planned or not, it is part of our system today and has been since ?????
    And it is acknowledged and aided by the servants of justice at all levels. And of course by the graduates who become politicians, continuing their careers as arbitrary P/J/J and executioner.

  19. Congratulations folks.

    Congress to See Memo Backing Drone Attacks on Americans


    The White House’s order to release classified documents came two days after 11 senators joined a growing chorus seeking information about the justification for targeted killings, especially of United States citizens.

    NYTimes top headline per email advice.

  20. Gene H. – “In a just world, Anderson would automatically get 25 years in prison”

    Twenty five? I’d say life without parole. Those in “law enforcement” (judges, lawyers, pi…uh, cops) who break the law should get stiffer penalties for crimes than civilians. Idiots like Anderson are supposed to know better but instead do worse, they have authority and abuse it for personal gain.

    Anderson should prove he’s “acting in the public interest” and fall on his sword. I don’t care if that’s figuratively or literally, but he does not deserve to live freely ever again.

  21. Re lawyers and like ilk, where would we be without ’em?

    Take reductio ad absurdum.
    Fine and dandy. But real physicists did that with reality and found that even particles seemed entangled. So finding ultimate causes in nature is not possible. Then they invented loops and have killed 35 years since then doing math. When do we get our next Einstein?

    Falling on your sword. How lovely!

    And only Malisha could say “Shame on him” with a straight face.
    Such innocence is refreshing, no matter her real age. (A lady’s secret!)

  22. If I remember this case correctly, the wife was killed by a transient who later killed another woman in the same way (and that woman’s husband is also suing the state). The little boy also told his grandmother the truth and the prosecutor told her the child was wrong, so she never spoke up. (I fault her for keeping quiet.)

    In a just world, I agree that the prosecutor and everyone involved in the cover up would go to jail for 25 years. But we know that won’t happen.

  23. “In a just world, I agree that the prosecutor and everyone involved in the cover up would go to jail for 25 years. But we know that won’t happen.”

    Some can not grasp nor admit that. Some swim in excrement and emerge smelling like the proverbial pig sty. But they neither see nor smell.

  24. God made rifles,,,,, for a reason. One bullet hole in the a hole of that prosecutor wont hurt Justice in Texas a bit..

  25. God made life. Weapons take life away. Would God be divided against himself? Because you want to use a weapon in revenge means whatever weapon has already back fired on your soul.

  26. Professor Turley, Rather than relying on current prosecutors to “investigate” or “indict” a former prosecutor, what about investigation and indictment by We the People in a Grand Jury, sometimes called the 4th Branch of Government? And then, what about what Solicitor General Kagan wrote about a few years ago, a “Private Prosecutor”, so that a government lawyer – prosecutor does not “punt” the prosecution as a favor for a Bar buddy?

  27. […] 16. Johnathan Turley is a legal scholar who has written extensively on a variety of legal matters. His blog focuses on the criminal justice field from the perspective of a professional of the legal system. Highlight: Texas Judge Under Investigation for Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct […]

  28. Lead prosecuter denies he did not know the repeated statement his father was not the one, the lead wittness in the case.
    Now a judge.
    Who believes this and if it were so what does it say about the man.
    Thats a lie just like the hundreds if not thousands of people who are falsely jailed on lies from the forensic lab in Harris county that has been forgotten about.
    They would rather leave them there than bankrupt Houston.
    Faith in the system? Yea…

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