Texas Judge Finds Probable Cause that Texas DA Illegally Withheld Evidence in Murder Trial of Michael Morton

We’ve been monitoring the case of Michael Morton – an innocent man who had been convicted of murder long ago in Williamson County.  For all the details on what happened to Mr. Morton, check out our post from last month, which delves into the allegations of bad acts by the prosecutor at Morton’s criminal trial.

Now, the focus of Texas justice is not upon Mr. Morton and finding whomever did indeed murder his wife so long ago, but instead upon Ken Anderson, who was the Williamson County District Attorney over 24 years ago when Morton was tried for the crime.  First, there was a shock wave through out the criminal justice community when Morton had the courage to request a Court of Inquiry into what the district attorney did and did not do, way back when.

Shocked or pleasantly surprised, it was nice to see this request not only being made, but actually getting some respect in its progress before District Judge Sid Harle, who had been designated to review the issue.  Of course, lots of folk thought this is where it would end; as we pointed out last month, Grits for Breakfast had noted that this was the state where it was held to be okey dokey for a trial judge and a prosecutor to be having an illicit affair at the same time that there were involved in a criminal felony trial.   It’s safe to say that with Texas’ record, no one was betting that Morton’s request for a Court of Inquiry really had legs.

Except it did.

Judge Sid Harle has determined that there should be a Court of Inquiry into former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson’s actions during the Michael Morton trial.  Which means that Harle had to find as a fact that there was probable cause that the district attorney performed an illegal act in the withholding of evidence from the defense team.

You can read Judge Harle’s Application for Court of Inquiry with Supporting Affidavit online here.

That’s big, big news.  Which may explain why editorials are popping up in support of this decision in the Dallas Morning News and there’s continuing coverage of the event in the American Bar Journal.

Next?  Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson has to decide whether to follow the recommendation of Judge Harle.  If that happens, then we will all be watching some rare and wonderful in Texas:  an actual court of inquiry seeking justice.

You can read the press release issued by the Innocence Project, whose investigation has been critical in Mr. Morton’s release, here.


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