State Bar to investigate Ken Anderson and Mike Davis

Posted in Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 9:34 am by wcnews

Via the AAS, State Bar of Texas, in rare move, launches Morton investigation.

The State Bar of Texas is investigating actions taken by trial prosecutors in the 1987 wrongful conviction of Michael Morton, an official said Wednesday.

The bar took the rare step of acknowledging an ongoing disciplinary investigation because of the attention Morton’s case has received since mid-August, when his lawyers announced that DNA tests showed another man killed his wife, Christine, in their Williamson County home.

Morton was freed Oct. 4 after serving almost 25 years in prison, and the state’s highest criminal court later proclaimed his innocence and tossed out his murder conviction and life sentence.

“We decided, because of the high-profile nature of the thing, that we were going to tell the public that we were looking into it,” Maureen Ray, with the bar’s office of chief disciplinary counsel, said Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, the former district attorney who prosecuted Morton, Ken Anderson, filed a motion to quash a subpoena forcing him to testify under oath about allegations that he improperly hid evidence favorable to Morton. [Emphasis added]

Morton’s lawyers are set to depose Anderson, now a district judge in Georgetown, on Oct. 26. However, through his attorney Mark Dietz, Anderson said District Judge Sid Harle lacked the jurisdiction to issue the subpoena and that he was not provided 10-day notice as required by court procedures.

Morton’s lawyers declined to comment on Anderson’s motion. Anderson also has declined to comment, saying he could not discuss a pending case.

Wanting to quash a subpoena isn’t helping his cause. But it’s no wonder why he’s trying.

But Morton’s lawyers have filed court documents that include accusations of professional misconduct against Anderson and former assistant district attorney Mike Davis, now a Round Rock lawyer, for allegedly withholding evidence that could have helped establish Morton’s innocence.

One such document was the transcript of a police interview indicating that Morton’s 3-year-old son, Eric, witnessed his mother’s attack and said his father was not home at the time. Morton’s appellate lawyers received the transcript under Texas open records laws in 2008.

According to state rules on lawyer conduct, prosecutors must disclose to defense lawyers “all evidence or information that tends to negate the guilt of the accused.”

“A prosecutor has the responsibility to see that justice is done, and not simply to (seek a conviction),” the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct state. [Emphasis added]

If the inquiry results in the bar filing a complaint against an attorney, that document would be hidden from public view, Ray said. At that point, the accused lawyer would have a choice: stand before an evidentiary panel of a bar grievance committee, which would be conducted in private, or take the case to state district court, which is a public process, Ray said.

Available sanctions include disbarment, suspending a law license for a set time or placing a lawyer on a form of professional probation. The bar also can issue a public reprimand or a private admonition.

Let’s hope that Anderson and Davis are brought to account for any misconduct they may have committed. There is no way that Michael Morton and his family can be paid back for the pain they’ve been caused. Whether it was through intentional misconduct or incompetence.

[UPDATE]: Grits, State Bar will investigate prosecutor misconduct in Michael Morton exoneration, and WW, Battle of the “Johns”: John Raley 9 John Bradley 1, have more. Including this AAS editorial, State Bar investigation a step toward truth.

[UPDATE II]: Davis joins the fray, Second Morton prosecutor moves to quash subpoena, blames media(?), Morton Prosecutor Says He is Victim of a Media War. The media didn’t put an innocent man in jail for 24 years.

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