Michael Morton

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

Thirty years ago, a Williamson County murder set in motion a shoddy prosecution — one in which ignored witness accounts and withheld evidence led to the conviction of an innocent man.

Michael Morton spent 25 years in prison for his wife's bludgeoning death before DNA analysis finally freed him, a miscarriage in justice that still reverberates through the state's criminal cases.

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

GEORGETOWN — Former Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton as a prosecutor, was sentenced to nine days in jail on Friday and will surrender his law license as part of a deal to resolve criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.

 Anderson entered into a comprehensive settlement involving all matters before the court. Those include a charge of criminal contempt tied to an accusation of failing to disclose evidence during Morton's 1987 trial, and the State Bar of Texas’ disciplinary case against Anderson over prosecutorial misconduct allegations. Charges of tampering with evidence were also dropped as part of the settlement.

Justin Dehn, Texas Tribune

Williamson County state district Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton in 1987, submitted a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Monday resigning his position effective immediately.

Anderson is facing both civil and criminal court proceedings for his role in prosecuting Morton for the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine Morton. Attorneys for Morton allege that Anderson withheld critical evidence that pointed to Morton's innocence and that he lied to the judge about the existence of that evidence. Morton was sentenced to life in prison and spent nearly 25 years behind bars before DNA testing revealed that he was innocent and connected another man to his wife's killing. He was released from prison in 2011.

Andrew Weber for KUT News

Governor Rick Perry signed the Michael Morton Act this afternoon,  a law that will require prosecutors in criminal cases to share evidence with defense attorneys.

The Governor characterized Texas as a “law and order” state and that the new law will allow judicial process to be as transparent and as open as humanly possible when it goes into effect in September of this year.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

Update: The Texas House gave final passage to the bill on May 14, 2013, officially sending it to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry for his signature.


Original version:
The Texas House has voted to pass bills that would grant more rights to people when they’re suspected and even convicted of crimes. The votes took place on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brady vs. Maryland ruling, which established a suspect’s right to access evidence against him or her. 

Michael Morton spent about 25 years behind bars, wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. 

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