Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Former Texas prosecutor disbarred for misconduct during death penalty trial

The State Bar of Texas disbarred a former Texas prosecutor for prosecutorial misconduct that landed a man on death row for 18 years, reported the Houston Chronicle.
Anthony Graves sat on death row for more than a dozen years and told anyone who would listen that the prosecutor in his 1994 capital murder trial withheld evidence, presented false testimony and lied to the judge.
At the time, few people believed the stunning allegations against Burleson County District Attorney Charles Sebesta.
Last week, State Bar of Texas officials told Graves he was right and had disbarred Sebesta for prosecutorial misconduct, an exceptionally rare punishment for an elected district attorney.
Graves, who faced two execution dates and spent more than 18 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, has become one of the signature exoneree cases in Texas during the last decade. He said the ruling against Sebesta was vindication and quoted Shakespeare.
"The worm has finally turned," he said. "And it's pointing toward justice now. It's a good day."
Graves learned of the decision during a conference call with his attorneys and State Bar officials. He said the ruling bodes well, not just for him but for others seeking justice.               
"This is a great start, by disbarring a prosecutor who attempted murder on my life," he said. "We should rejoice that today a man received justice in the criminal justice system, and the state itself helped me to achieve that."
The State Bar's disciplinary panel said in a six-page ruling that Sebesta failed to provide several items of exculpatory evidence to the defense during Graves' trial, presented false testimony to the jury, made a false statement of material fact to the trial judge and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
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