Monday, November 18, 2013

Former Texas prosecutor still in hot water

Former Williamson County district judge Ken Anderson has been sentenced to jail, forced to resign and give up his law license for withholding exculpatory evidence as a prosecutor that resulted in Michael Morton spending 25 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Anderson's problems continue. Innocence Project director Barry Scheck told reporters that the current Williamson County D.A., Jana Duty, had agreed to allow an independent review of every single case that Anderson had ever prosecuted, reported the Texas Monthly.

The audit will hopefully answer the question that many people have wondered since Morton’s exoneration in 2011. Was Anderson’s misconduct in the Morton case the exception or the rule?

Such an audit would be unusual for any district attorney’s office, but for Williamson County, it’s nothing less than extraordinary. During the more than quarter-century in which Anderson and his protégé, John Bradley, ran the office, it was one of the most secretive and adversarial in the state, reported the Texas Monthly.

Now Duty will be allowing some sunlight to shine in, opening Anderson’s old files up to scrutiny.
Patricia Cummings—who served on Morton’s legal team in recent years, and who previously worked under Anderson as an assistant prosecutor—is now working with the Williamson County DA’s office to identify which cases require further examination.

“We’re trying to determine how many cases Anderson took to trial in which there was a conviction,” the Innocence Project’s senior staff attorney, Nina Morrison, told the Texas Monthly. “Depending on that number, we may look at all of those cases, or we may start with just the ones in which someone is still in prison.”

After the scope of the audit has been defined, Morrison said, the goal is to launch an independent examination of flagged cases at no cost to taxpayers. “We’re in discussions with a major international law firm about conducting the review pro bono,” she told the Texas Monthly.

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