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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Former Prosecutor Jailed for Withholding Exculpatory Evidence

Disgraced Former Judge
& Prosecutor Ken Anderson
We saw this in the 313 a few years back in the Judge Waterstone case; a prosecutor getting jail time for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence that could set an innocent accused individual free.  This post profiles a case, the worst we've ever seen here at the Law Blogger, that comes from Texas.

Here in Michigan, as in Texas and all other states, prosecuting attorneys have a duty to disclose evidence that is exculpatory -that is, favorable- to the accused.  Failure to disclose exculpatory evidence subjects the prosecutor to contempt of court for which a violator can be jailed.

Michael Morton was accused, tried and jury-convicted of killing his wife Christine back in 1987.  Ken Anderson was the prosecutor assigned to the case.  After convicting Morton, Anderson rode a "tough-on-crime" wave onto the county circuit court bench where he has been serving as a judge until resigning in disgrace just last September.

The source of his disgrace was that justice was finally served-up in Morton's re-opened murder case.  DNA blood evidence from another individual proved Morton did not murder his wife; the blood was from a local drifter who was later convicted of murdering another woman in Texas two years after Christine Morton's death.

In the process of re-opening Morton's case, it was learned that Anderson possessed two pieces of critical exculpatory evidence: Morton's 3-year old son saw the murderer and told his grandparents that it was not his dad but rather, a "monster"; neighbors' statements described seeing a drifter near the Morton residence in the days leading up to Christine's murder.

Unfortunately for Morton, he did a full quarter in the joint before being released in 2011.  The drifter was eventually convicted of Christine Morton's murder and now sits on Texas' Death Row awaiting execution.

As part of a global agreement settling all matters against him, the disgraced judge and former prosecutor was disbarred as a lawyer, and will do [only] 10-days in the county jail for contempt of court; he will not have a criminal conviction on his record.

The civil lawsuit against Anderson brought by the State Bar of Texas will be dismissed.  As part of the resolution, Anderson will not be charged with the more serious criminal charges of tampering with evidence [carrying a 10-year maximum prison term] due to statute of limitations constraints in bringing such a case.

If you were to ask us here at the Law Blogger, as between these two men, we believe Anderson got a far better deal.  He should be tasting prison food for at least a nickel; he got lucky and he knows it.

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