Another success story for the Innocence Project.
In December 2013, former Texas judge Kenneth Anderson – who prosecuted Michael Morton before becoming a judge – served jail time for withholding exonerating evidence from the defense after he had been ordered by a judge to give any such evidence to the defense.
Michael Morton’s story became known in 2011, after he was released from prison after being wrongfully convicted of the 1986 murder of his wife. Thanks to efforts by the local Innocence Project, Morton was able to use DNA evidence to show that another man killed his wife.
That man has since been convicted. At the time of Morton’s release, Anderson only gave a generic public apology to Mr. Morton and his family.
Nonetheless, based on the seriousness of the evidence that was withheld, the State Bar of Texas held a board of inquiry which stripped Anderson of his judgeship, terminated his license to practice law, and required him to perform community service, to pay a fine, and to serve a 10-day jail sentence. Anderson finally served about half of his jail sentence (after getting credit for time served) in December 2013.
The Michael Morton story has been the subject of many news articles, documentaries and books in the last two years. It is one of the great successes of The Innocence Project. When one compares the plight of Mr. Morton, and his then young son, who lost his father to 25 years of imprisonment in a Texas jail to the handful of days in jail and loss of a job that Ken Anderson received, there is a major discrepancy.
The silver lining in the situation is that the State of Texas and many other states are now taking prosecutorial misconduct much more seriously. Certainly, the State of Texas is reviewing all cases prosecuted by Ken Anderson for similar issues.