Former Texas District Attorney Accused Of Prosecutorial Misconduct That Sent Innocent Man To Prison For 25 Years . . . Receives 10 Days In Jail

We previously discussed the case of former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson who committed various prosecutorial abuses to secure the imprisonment of Michael Morton (shown here), now 58, an innocent man who spent 25 years in jail. This includes a discussion this weekend on the blog. He has now pleaded guilty and will received just 10 days in jail as part of his settlement.

Ken Anderson was a judge in Williamson County, Texas and constitutes a relatively rare case where a former prosecutor is actually called to account for such misconduct. Morton was wrongly convicted in 1987 for the murder of his wife. 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.

While Morton sat in jail for 25 years, 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.

The ten days for Anderson is for contempt for telling a judge during a 1987 hearing that he did not have exculpatory evidence to provide to defense counsel. He must also perform 500 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine, and will be disbarred. However, he was also accused of felony evidence-tampering, which was dropped.

He could have received 10 years on the tampering charge.

However, as light as this punishment is, it still involved his disbarment and removal from the bench. That is far more than the vast majority of cases of prosecutorial misconduct. Many judges are former prosecutors and often avoid addressing such misconduct.

20 thoughts on “Former Texas District Attorney Accused Of Prosecutorial Misconduct That Sent Innocent Man To Prison For 25 Years . . . Receives 10 Days In Jail”

  1. There’s a great documentary on CNN about this case called “Unreal Dream.” Worth recording.

  2. Another prosecutor’s office, name unknown.

    20-year-old Kalief Browder may be physically free, but mentally he is still trapped behind bars on Rikers, where every day was a battle to survive.

    “It’s very hard when you are dealing with dudes that are big and have weapons and shanks and there are gangs,” says Browder, “you know if you don’t give your phone call up, or you don’t give them what they want you know they are going to jump you. And it’s very scary.”

    In May of 2010, Browder was a 16-year-old tenth grader, walking home on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx after a party. “This guy comes out of nowhere and says I robbed him. And the next thing I know they are putting cuffs on me. I don’t know this dude. And I do over three years for something I didn’t do.”

    Browder’s family couldn’t make the $10,000 bail on the robbery charges, and he had a legal aid attorney. Browder is now represented by a civil rights law firm.

    “Someone who did not know Kalief Browder, and simply told the police officer, ‘Officer I was robbed two weeks ago and that kid did it’, that’s where it ended. That was the identification,” said Browder’s attorney, Paul Prestia. Browder said that at the time, the stress was overwhelming, and at some point he tried to commit suicide.

    “I mean like every time I go to court, I think I’m, going home, and I go to court, and absolutely nothing happens,” adds Browder, “I was feeling so much pain, and it was all balling in my head, and I just had to grab my head and I can’t take it.”

    He missed his sister’s wedding, the birth of his nephew, and so many family events. In January, Browder says he was offered a plea deal after 33 Months in jail, which he refused.

    “The judge was trying to give me time served, and she is telling me if I am not taking it and I lose at trial I can get 15 years,” notes Browder.

    Browder went back to jail, and in June, he was freed with no explanation.

    “They just dismissed the case and they think it’s all right. No apology, no nothing,” he says, “they just say ‘case dismissed, don’t worry about nothing’. What do you mean, don’t worry about nothing? You just took 3 years of my life.”

    Browder is now trying to make up for those three years of high school that he lost by taking courses to get his GED. “I didn’t get to go to prom or graduation. Nothing,” Browder says, “those are the main years. They are the main years. And I am never going to get those years back. Never. Never.”

    Browder is trying to move forward. He expects to get his GED by the end of the year, and is desperately trying to find a job.

  3. I’d kill the district attorney. already did the time. might as well do the crime.

  4. I feel that half of everything Ken Anderson has or will ever collect from benefits unjustly received on the backs of his victims should go to Mr. Morton for the loss of his best, productive years in prison. Ken Anderson should thank God that he was not sentenced to prison. Truthfully, there are better people in prison then what we have running our wonderful county’s, cities, and country.

  5. “He could have received 10 years on the tampering charge.” -Jonathan Turley

    And that’s what he should have “received.” Throw the guy in jail — let him do some serious time. While in prison, maybe he could do something useful, as well. Perhaps he could help some of these folks:


    “Today marks Veterans Day, the federal holiday honoring U.S. men and women who have fought in the armed forces. Veterans continue to face extremely high levels of unemployment, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress and homelessness.

    -Since 2000, nearly 6,000 service members have experienced traumatic amputations from injuries caused by improvised explosive devices and other war-related dangers.

    -Nearly one million active service members have been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder since 2000;

    -nearly half of those have been diagnosed with two or more. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs,

    -an estimated 22 veterans take their own lives each day. Last year, more U.S. military personnel died by their own hands than the hands of others.

    -On any given night, nearly 63,000 veterans are homeless.

    -Many suffer chronic debilitating mental health problems.

    We are joined by long-time writer and photographer Ann Jones, author of the new book, “They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — The Untold Story.””

    (Emphasis, of a sort, is mine.)

  6. Michaelb,

    Yes that’s true but the county will foot the bill for his defense….

  7. Well one thing for sure…. He won’t miss his DA or Judicial pensions…. Or life time health or social security…… The pensions alone are about 125k a year……

    As we’ve seen in the OJ Simpson case… The pensions are not touchable….. I think he should have to forfeit one or both……

    One thing positive it is now mandatory that the Prosecuting Authority open up its file to the defense…..

  8. nick spinelli 1, November 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

    It is probably a combination of more news venues that misconduct in law enforcement is becoming more prominent. At least that’s my hope.
    That would be better than wide-spread social degeneration, however, the surge of dementia based denialism would seem to militate against the bulk of that optimistic, hopeful surmising.

  9. Hoping for a civil lawsuit that will bankrupt his butt.

    And a review of every case he prosecuted.

  10. It is probably a combination of more news venues that misconduct in law enforcement is becoming more prominent. At least that’s my hope.

  11. Sentencing Law and Policy has a long article on this as well as many comments. The extent of the conduct amounts to a crime and the extent of the punishment on the prosecutor amounts to a sham. And a shame.

  12. An old lawyer nearing retirement age loses his license and serves 10 days in jail. Unbelievable. He stole a man’s life, and the lives of all who love him, while the real killer remained free.

Comments are closed.