Judge Sturns has issued a warrant for Anderson’s arrest after finding that there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing in his prosecution of Michael Morton. Anderson’s lawyer said he will challenge the warrant.
The chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court issued a “call to arms” before a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to provide legal aid to the poor and make justice more affordable to the middle class.
“Do we have liberty and justice for all? Or have we come to accept liberty and justice only for some?” Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson said in his biennial State of the Judiciary speech. “If the remedy is unaffordable, justice is denied.”
Jefferson also criticized the practice of writing Class C misdemeanor tickets for disruptive conduct in Texas schools, forcing children to answer the charge in court and leaving some, particularly those who cannot afford a lawyer, vulnerable to arrest and a criminal record.
About 300,000 such tickets are written each year, he said.
“We are criminalizing our children for nonviolent offenses,” Jefferson said. “We must keep our children in school, and out of our courts, to give them the opportunity to follow a path of success, not a path toward prison.”
Jefferson praised legislators for spending $17.5 million on legal aid for the poor in 2012-13 — and agreeing to keep the funding in the developing 2014-15 budget. Still, he said, legal aid programs meet only 20 percent of indigent Texans’ civil court needs.
“Some of our most essential rights — those involving families, homes and livelihoods — are the least protected. Veterans languish for months before their disability, pension and educational benefits arrive,” Jefferson said, adding that many families cannot afford lawyers to help them through foreclosures, evictions and bankruptcies.
He doesn’t say it in so many words but basically what he’s saying is that the person/corporation that can afford the best attorney wins. Regardless of the law. And that’s not how the justice system in the United States of America is supposed to work.
Here’s the full paragraph from his speech yesterday on the inequality in our justice system. (Full text of speech in extended entry).
For those who can afford legal services, we have a top-notch judicial system. Highly qualified lawyers help courts dispense justice fairly and efficiently. But that kind of representation is expensive. A larger swath of litigation exists in which the contestants lack wealth, insurance is absent, and public funding is not available. Some of our most essential rights—those involving families, homes, and livelihoods—are the least protected. Veterans languish for months before their disability, pension, and educational benefits arrive. As a result of the recent financial crisis, lower and middle-income homeowners and tenants face foreclosure and eviction. Ever-increasing numbers of consumers and small businesses have filed for bankruptcy. And few can afford a lawyer to guide them through these crises.
That lays our the problem pretty well. He also mentioned the exoneration of Michael Morton, in once again calling for the creation of an innocence commission.
A final, but important, word about our criminal justice system. If innocent people are rotting in prison for crimes they did not commit, we certainly have not achieved justice for all. Michael Morton’s recent exoneration epitomizes the need to address the issue of wrongful convictions in Texas. He spent 25 years in prison, convicted of murdering his wife, until DNA evidence confirmed his innocence. In the last 25 years, 117 Texans have been exonerated. Forty-seven were cleared based on DNA testing, more than any other state. Wrongful convictions leave our citizens vulnerable as actual perpetrators remain free. And they leave us with the distinct impression that we today suffer from a systemic deficit in our collective approach to the way we decide how to administer criminal justice.
As in years past, I continue to recommend the creation of a commission to investigate each instance of exoneration, to assess the likelihood of wrongful convictions in future cases, and to establish statewide reforms. I appreciate the leadership of Senator Ellis and Representative McClendon in this area. I also appreciate the legislature’s support of the innocence projects at our state’s four public law schools. Since 2006, the projects have helped identify and overturn 10 wrongful convictions in our state. In many of these cases, the same investigation that cleared an innocent person also identified the actual perpetrator.
I have spoken about the indigent. But there is a dark secret that plagues our justice system as a whole. We in the judiciary must bring this secret to light. The sad fact is that the middle class and small businesses find our system unworkable and unaffordable. They believe there are too many unnecessary lawsuits, coupled with incessant legal wrangling that drags out cases. And they feel that even if they are entitled to a remedy for a legal wrong, they cannot afford the fees a lawyer quotes for vindication. It is time for us to do our part to answer these concerns, because if the remedy is unaffordable, justice is denied.
It’s certainly striking to read how bad our justice system is in Texas. Hopefully our elected leaders will hear this and do what’s necessary to fix our unequal and broken justice system In Texas.
Again, the full text is in the extended entry, it’s highly recommended to read the whole thing.
Brandi Grissom has a wrap up of this of the week long court of inquiry for former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson regarding the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton in 1986. (Check out these links as Grissom attended the whole hearing and live blogged it – here, here, here, and here.)
At the end what stood out was the level to which Ken Anderson saw himself as a victim. But more importantly that Michael Morton feels that Anderson still doesn’t get that he made a mistake and needs to atone for that.
Morton exited the courtroom Friday afternoon, after a week of hearing the excruciating details of his botched trial rehashed and a day of listening to one of the men he feels was responsible for his wrongful conviction defend his work. “Yikes,” Morton said to a gaggle of television cameras and news reporters. He took a deep breath before describing the day of heated verbal sparring as “wrenching.”
Morton said his impression was that Anderson accepted no responsibility for the injustice he suffered.
“I was hoping for more,” he said. “I think we saw someone who is still struggling with denial and anger.”
In watching all of this over the last year and a half or so, I’m not positive that Anderson technically broke any law. But I’m damn near positive there were moral and ethical lapses. And that former Sheriff Boutwell and Anderson knew, deep down in their souls, that Morton was guilty and were bound and determined to put him in jail – no matter what the evidence said. Their egos got in the way of reality. And that later on John Bradley was willing to keep him there for the same egotistical reasons. And lends credence to the many unfair justice stories, that are common place for anyone who has lived in Williamson County for an extended period of time.
Hopefully this will be a cautionary tale for all prosecutors that they are not the judge and jury. That they should allow everyone to look at all the evidence in a case – all the way through the appeals process – to make sure they’re not putting innocent people in jail for crimes they didn’t commit. Because, as this shows, when an innocent person goes to jail it not only ruins their life, but when the truth comes out it ruins the lives, and legacy, of those that put the innocent person in jail as well.
During a discussion about what sort of changes should be made to prevent wrongful convictions, Anderson was unable to come up with any ideas for legislative measures or judicial reforms. He also declined to say that the Williamson County D.A.’s office had been wrong to fight DNA testing in Michael’s case for five years, even though that testing not only exonerated Michael, but identified the DNA of a man who has since been indicted for Christine’s murder and the 1988 murder of Debra Baker.
As reporters and cameramen gathered around Michael at the conclusion of the day, he seemed momentarily at a loss for words. Earlier in the week, Michael had asked Sturns to “be gentle” on Anderson. But Michael was clearly shocked by what Anderson had, and had not, said. Listening to the man who helped send him to prison for life, he told reporters, was “wrenching.” Anderson’s testimony “was unexpected to say the very least,” he added. “I was hoping for more.”
Before turning to walk away with the lawyers who secured his exoneration, Michael said, “I think we saw someone who is still struggling with denial and anger. . . .This is a man who has been in a position of power for almost three decades, and for the first time has had to answer for his actions, and he’s very uncomfortable with that.”
Michael stated that he trusted that Sturns—who will likely issue a decision this spring about whether Anderson should face criminal charges—would “do the right thing.”
For more on the court of inquiry, read executive editor Pamela Colloff’s twodispatches from Williamson County. And for more on the history of Michael’s case, read her two-part series, theInnocentMan.
Exactly 16 months after Michael Morton was freed from prison, an unprecedented hearing will begin Monday in Georgetown to determine if his prosecutor, former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, should himself be prosecuted and possibly jailed.
Anderson faces a court of inquiry, a rare and uniquely Texas procedure that will examine allegations that he lied and conspired to conceal evidence — in violation of the law and a judge’s order — that could have spared Morton from serving 25 years in prison in the beating death of his wife.
In the time since DNA tests confirmed his innocence, Morton — who is expected to testify Monday — has worked to rebuild his life, particularly his relationship with son Eric, who was 3 when he was arrested, and a granddaughter born shortly after his release.
Anderson’s fortunes, meanwhile, have fallen.
Once synonymous with Williamson County’s tough-on-crime image, Anderson was a politically astute, award-winning district attorney for 16 years. Praised as a tenacious advocate for child victims, he was a sought-after speaker and the co-author of several legal reference books. When Gov. Rick Perry needed to fill a state district court vacancy, Anderson was the natural choice.
And here’s how the court of inquiry will work.
The inquiry will resemble a trial, but with several essential differences.
Up to 20 witnesses will be questioned and cross-examined in an effort to reconstruct events before, during and after Morton’s 1987 trial for the murder of his wife, Christine, in their Williamson County home.
But the court of inquiry will not end with a verdict of guilt or innocence for Anderson, who has denied wrongdoing in the case.
Instead, the judge appointed to preside over the court — state District Judge Louis Sturns of Fort Worth — will determine whether there is reason to believe state laws were broken in the way Anderson prosecuted Morton. If the answer is yes, state law requires Sturns to issue an arrest warrant charging Anderson with one or more crimes, potentially leading to a criminal trial.
In that way, a court of inquiry is closer to a grand jury, which decides whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Unlike a grand jury, however, the court of inquiry will be open to the public, and Anderson’s lawyers will be there to question witnesses, raise objections and present their own evidence.
There also will be no prosecutor. Instead, a Sturns-appointed “attorney pro tem” — noted defense lawyer Rusty Hardin, aided by several members of his Houston law firm — will present evidence, question witnesses and perform any task that Sturns believes will help him understand the issues.
“It’s not a trial. It’s an evidentiary hearing for the judge to hear from both sides,” Hardin told the American-Statesman recently. “And it’s not like a trial where there’s a prosecutor trying to get somebody convicted. I think our role is to try to make sure the judge has all the evidence before him so he can make an informed choice.”
When the testimony is over, Sturns can issue an immediate ruling or take the matter under advisement.
The Texas Tribune also has a write up on this week’s Anderson court of inquiry, Michael Morton’s Conviction Comes to Define Anderson. The article reminds us of how Williamson County “justice” was back then. In a word, lazy. Two buddies in a rural county, a Sheriff and a DA, could concoct a plausible scenario and sell it to a local jury and they’d buy it hook, line, and sinker. Whether it was based in fact or not. And they knew, just knew, they were right.
Parker McCollough, a friend of Anderson’s who would later become a state legislator, represented Lucas during that high-profile trial. It was one of many cases in which he sat across the courtroom from Anderson, who was then an assistant prosecutor.
“He was a very thorough prosecutor who took his job seriously,” McCollough said. “I took it that that was the focus of what he was doing with his life at that particular point in his life. He was extremely conscientious.”
Minton said Boutwell set the tone for criminal justice in Williamson County.
“He had more control over the courthouse attitude than any DA did back then,” Minton said.
At the time of Morton’s trial, Boutwell was regarded as a “lawman’s lawman,” Anderson wrote in his book. “We had a common purpose. We believed we really could make Williamson County a safer, better place for our neighbors to live in.”
Boutwell’s influence spread from the courthouse to politics, too. Politicians ranging from candidates for local office to the governor sought his approval. During Ann Richards’ 1990 gubernatorial campaign, Boutwell grilled the candidate about her personal history and political views before giving his blessing. Then, he escorted Richards on visits to sheriffs across the state, urging them to support her.
“Boutwell was always talking about what politics ought to be and how tough he was on crime,” Minton said.
When Christine Morton was found beaten to death in her bed on Aug. 13, 1986, Boutwell was among the first to arrive on the scene. He informed Michael Morton, when he arrived home from work, that his wife was dead and immediately read him his Miranda rights. Morton has said Boutwell treated him with suspicion from the start, a feeling fueled by an unpleasant note he had left for his wife expressing disappointment that she had fallen asleep during a romantic interlude the night before — his birthday. About six weeks later, Morton was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder.
In Crime In Texas, Anderson described how he and Boutwell meticulously pieced together “circumstantial murder cases,” plotted undercover operations and made plans to help crime victims on coffee-stained napkins at the L&M Café in Georgetown.
“Perhaps no sheriff and district attorney had a closer working relationship than Jim and I had,” he wrote.
The Morton murder was among the cases the two men worked on together. The theory Anderson developed with Boutwell’s help was that Morton had been so enraged by his wife’s rejection that he bashed in her head with a billy club before using her lifeless hand to masturbate.
In 1987, Morton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
“Life in prison is a lot better than he deserves,” Anderson told newspaper reporters.
If Anderson is as good a man as the article goes on to say his punishment is that he has to live with what he did to Michael Morton and his family for the rest of his life. He shouldn’t be able to practice law anymore, but that’s up to the legal system in Texas. Which allowed Michael Morton to go to prison for 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit. So Andeson should just do the right thing and retire. But who knows whether either of those things will happen.
It looks like judge Ken Anderson, better known now as the Williamson County DA in the Michael Morton case, is facing serious disciplinary actions for his prosecution in that case. At issue since the details of this case and Morton’s release after 25 years in prison, has always been whether Anderson’s actions in the case were because of incompetence of were intentional. The Texas Tribune also has the stroy, State Bar Seeks Disciplinary Action Against Anderson
On the one-year anniversary of Michael Morton’s release from prison, the State Bar of Texas filed a disciplinary case against the prosecutor who secured his wrongful murder conviction. The lawyer oversight agency alleges that former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson — now a state district judge — deliberately withheld evidence and made false statements to the court during Morton’s 1987 trial.
Anderson, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry in 2002 and who the State Bar named “Prosecutor of the Year” in 1995, is facing civil and criminal legal action and could be disbarred if he is found to have violated professional rules of conduct in securing the wrongful conviction. Morton was sentenced to life and spent nearly 25 years in prison for the August 1986 murder of his wife Christine Morton.
During their investigation, Morton’s lawyers, John Raley, of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, along with Barry Scheck and Nina Morrison of the New York-based Innocence Project, discovered evidence that they allege Anderson deliberately withheld from defense lawyers and from the judge in the case.
Among those items was a transcript of a phone call in which Morton’s mother-in-law recounted to police a conversation with her 3-year-old grandson, who said he saw a “monster” beat his mother to death. He said Morton, his father, was not at home when the beating happened. Defense lawyers also found a report that Christine Morton’s credit card had been used in San Antonio days after her murder. And they found reports from neighbors who told police that they saw a man in a green van park near the Mortons’ home several times before the crime.
The State Bar conducted a 10-month investigation after a grievance was filed against Anderson in the case. The State Bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline wrote in its court filing that Anderson knew of the evidence and withheld it. The filing also alleges that Anderson made a false statement to the court when he told the judge he had no evidence that could be favorable to Morton’s claims of innocence.
His conduct, the State Bar commission wrote, violated five of the state’s Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.
The full petition can be read here. It seems pretty clear that Anderson withheld evidence favorable to Morton and he also made a false statement during a pre-trial hearing. Here’s what Anderson if facing if found to have committed professional misconduct.
Anderson is expected to file a response to the lawsuit by Nov. 5. He can choose between a civil jury trial or a bench trial in which a judge will hear the case. If Anderson’s conduct is found to constitute professional misconduct, the judge will impose sanctions, which could include a public reprimand, probated suspension of his law license, active suspension of his law license, or disbarment. The judge could also force Anderson to pay the attorneys’ fees of the State Bar commission.
If he’s found guilty he should have the book thrown at him. Intentionally taking away 25 years of a man’s life for a crime he did not commit, means Anderson should be booted from the legal profession.
Outgoing Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley is being considered to lead the state’s Special Prosecution Unit, which prosecutes crimes committed in state prisons and juvenile detention facilities and is in charge of civil commitments of sexual predators.
Grits won’t say “good luck” because I’m not sure I want him to get the gig. Though it might be interesting to see John Bradley in a job which calls on him to treat convicted felons with the deference prosecutors normally afford victims, one imagines the other candidates likely offer less politicized options. OTOH, there are places he could land where he could do far more damage, just in case his road to Damascus conversion doesn’t stick. Heck, I’d half-feared Gov. Perry would name him head of his Criminal Justice Division. So I’ve got mixed feelings about this prospect, though I’m sure Grits readers have strong opinions on the subject.
Brandi Grissom is doing a series at The Texas Tribune, Errors in Judgement – the consequences of prosecutorial mistakes. And the article on Sunday dealt with Michael Morton’s son, Eric Olson. Yes, they have different last names now. That’s just one of the gut wrenching things this family has had to deal with over the past 25 years, Son Seeks Answers in Father’s Wrongful Conviction.
Eric said that he has no recollection of those events now, and that after his mother’s death and his father’s conviction, family members did all they could to protect him and give him a normal childhood.
“I look back now, and I should have been really, really messed up,” Eric said during an interview in a hotel room not far from the courthouse where his father was convicted and where documentary filmmakers were working on a movie about the family’s nightmarish ordeal. He glanced across the room adoringly at his cooing, blue-eyed infant daughter. Her name: Christine Marie Olson, after Eric’s mother. “But everything came out pretty good.”
His mother’s sister, Marylee Kirkpatrick, who lived in Houston, won custody of her sister’s son.
The custody agreement required Kirkpatrick to ensure that Eric visited his father twice each year at the Wynne prison unit in Huntsville.
Eric remembers sitting at a picnic table in the prison yard. His dad always brought lemon drops. His aunt would sit at the table, too, quietly reading.
As he grew older, though, Eric said, he realized how weird the situation was. When he was a teenager, he wrote a letter to his father explaining that he wanted to stop the visits.
“I don’t remember it being as emotional to say I didn’t want to go anymore,” he said. “I just did. I didn’t feel connected to it much anymore.”
Around the time the visits stopped, Kirkpatrick married Paul Olson. To Eric, who changed his last name when he turned 18, they are Mom and Dad.
For his father in prison, news of his son’s name change was shattering. The hope of proving his innocence and reuniting with his son had kept Morton afloat in the grinding boredom and harsh reality of prison.
For Eric, though, changing his name was simply the next logical step in moving on with his life, being part of the family he loved.
And so, life moved on. Eric went to college at Texas State University-San Marcos. He graduated, moved back to Houston and began working at the Catholic preparatory high school he had attended. There, he met Maggie Mahoney in 2009, and they were married last year.
The parole board, Eric learned, had told Morton that if he simply accepted responsibility for killing his wife, he could be released. Morton refused.
“It turns out he had said, ‘All I have left is my innocence,’” Eric said. “That’s pretty bold. I don’t think I would have done it. I would have gotten out. Get me out of here.”
With Morton, 57, now out of prison, the father and son are building the relationship they started to forge that night at Raley’s house. They see each other about once a month. Morton fawns over his granddaughter and marvels that his son is now a father.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, now I have to get to know him, because I never did. I never knew who he was, or what his favorite food was,” Eric said. “Being introduced to him was like remembering a movie I saw when I was a kid, like meeting a movie star.”
And for Christine Morton’s family it…
For the family who raised him — Christine Morton’s sister, brother and mother — Eric said the discovery of Morton’s innocence was difficult. It brought a flood of terrible, long-buried memories along with new guilt and questions about how things could have gone so wrong.
The Kirkpatricks, Eric said, had a close relationship with [Williamson County state district Judge Ken] Anderson, the prosecutor.
“He convinced everybody that’s what the truth was, and that’s what they thought forever,” Eric said. “They didn’t have any other source of truth.”
The best part of the story, of course, is that since Morton’s release the father and son have been able to reconcile. Of course neither of them is out for vengeance. They want those responsible held accountable, and to make sure no one else has to live through what they have.
Texas Democrats believe that marijuana should be decriminalized — so strongly, in fact, that decriminalization made it onto their party platform this year.
Texas Democrats affirmed their commitment to sound drug policy while simultaneously denouncing the erroneously titled “War on Drugs,” which has led to high incarceration rates but very little in the way of reducing drug use. “Since the war on drugs began, 85% of the arrests for marijuana have been for possession only,” the platform says:
Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Recent polls show over 50% of Americans believe marijuana should be decriminalized. While arrests for marijuana since 1965 have been over 20 million citizens, marijuana is more prevalent than ever before.
There is no evidence that marijuana is a “gateway” drug leading to the use of more lethal drugs. 75% of citizens arrested for marijuana are under 30. Minorities account for a majority of those arrested for marijuana. Criminal conviction permanently scars a young citizen for life.
Texas Democrats urge the President, the Attorney General and the Congress to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and regulate it’s use, production and sale as is done with tobacco and alcohol.
We further urge the immediate decriminalization of the possession and use of medical marijuana.
It also makes a whole lot of sense. Here’s an excerpt from TDP Chair Hinojosa’s email on the subject.
During our June 2012 state convention, the Texas Democratic Party adopted a platform that called for the decriminalization of marijuana. Make no mistake. This action was not meant to condone or promote drug use. It does however recognize that archaic laws that incarcerate thousands of Texans – disproportionately African Americans and Latinos – for the possession of marijuana must be changed. These arrests do nothing to promote public safety or fiscal responsibility. Instead they crowd our jails, ruin the futures of thousands of young Texans, and are a drain on our state budget. Estimates show that Texas could save more than $75 million per year by decriminalizing marijuana. Continuing to incarcerate people for possession of marijuana is a failed policy. The Texas Democratic Party understands that we need to look forward and end fiscally stupid policies that put a scarlet letter on thousands of young people.
Read Hinojosa’s full statement, and news links in the extended entry.
Ruining people’s lives, in most cases young people’s lives, who are overwhelmingly minorities, for possession of marijuana and putting them in jail is not only cruel, but fiscally irresponsible. This video from The Last Word earlier in the week sums it up pretty good.
On PBS’s Frontline last night they looked at the science, or lack thereof, in forensic science. The most shocking to me was finding out that fingerprints are based on faith and not science much of the time. Not to mention the fact that anyone can get a forensic credential online. This is extremely shocking especially in light of the Michael Morton case.
Michael Morton committed no crime the morning of Aug. 13, 1986, which started out as innocently as any other: out the door at 5:30 a.m. for his job as a grocery store manager. The public knows that today.
What we don’t know is whether a crime was committed in putting Morton in prison for nearly 25 years in the beating death of his wife that summer morning. While Morton’s innocence is unquestioned, former District Attorney Ken Anderson must account for disturbing questions about how he orchestrated a case he could sell to a jury and why he withheld exculpatory evidence before trial and during years of appeals.
For that reason we welcome a state judge’s decision in Williamson County last week recommending a rare court of inquiry into Anderson’s behavior.
The Morton fiasco has become a case study in the compounding nature of inept or corrupt police work. Morton became a patsy for a high-profile crime, and while he remained locked up in prison, the killer apparently struck again. Suddenly, a second family was dealing with a tragedy that might not have happened had investigators picked up on obvious clues and taken a dangerous predator off the streets.
The inquiry needs to go forward for a couple of reasons at least. If Anderson did nothing wrong he has nothing to worry about and the inquiry will make if official, if not he’s in trouble. But it must be done to show all prosecutors across the state if they play fast-and-loose with the evidence there are consequences. Their job is to bring justice, not quick and “successful” prosecutions. And if they forget that then everyone, and our justice system, gets hurt.
District Judge Harle has honored the court of inquiry request to determine if Judge Ken Anderson committed prosecutorial misconduct in the 1987 murder trial of Christine Morton.
Harle signed a probable cause affidavit Friday that will now go to the chambers of the Texas Supreme Court. Chief Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson, who will then make a ruling on whether or not the court of inquiry should move forward.
Former Williamson County district attorney Ken Anderson should face a court of inquiry to examine allegations that he violated state law by withholding evidence that could have spared Michael Morton from a wrongful conviction and almost 25 years in prison, a district judge ruled today.
After a 75-minute hearing, District Judge Sid Harle ruled that there is probable cause to believe that Anderson may have broken state law in the Morton case.
Noting that the allegations to date have been spurred by Morton’s lawyers, Harle said a court of inquiry would give Anderson a chance to clear his name and Morton a chance to seek a greater measure of justice.
Harle will put his request in writing – he gave no timeline – to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, who will determine whether to convene a court of inquiry to examine the allegations.
If Jefferson agrees, the Supreme Court would assign a state district judge to oversee the court of inquiry, which is a fact-finding body that would determine whether any state laws were violated. The court would not issue a punishment or criminal conviction.
After the hearing, Morton choked up briefly when facing reporters. “When you do the right thing, like the judge did today, everything falls into place,” said Morton, now sporting a gray goatee.[Emphasis added]