In the resolution of a case already discussed on Ethics Alarms, Former Williamson County (Texas) District Attorney Ken Anderson has been sentenced to serve 10 days in jail, pay a $500 fine and complete 500 hours of community service as punishment for intentionally failing to turn over exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated Michael Morton, who spent nearly 25 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Anderson also was forced to surrender his law license and resign his post as a judge because of his ethical breaches in the 1987 case, ultimately overturned after DNA evidence proved that Morton did not beat his wife to death.
Ten days for the prosecutor who disgraced his profession, sullied the justice system and destroyed a life seems like a rap on the wrist, and even an insult to the man who had to spend nearly 9000 days in jail because of Anderson’s deception. Consider, however: despite blatant prosecutorial misconduct, in every state and for centuries, with untold numbers of innocents jailed and executed, most never vindicated, this appears to be the first time on record that any prosecutor has been punished with jail time. Few, compared to the number deserving punishment, have been punished at all.
It’s a start. It’s a precedent.
The justice system just became a little more accountable.
Pointer: Legal Ethics Forum
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