Criminal Justice

Ex-DA takes plea in wrongful conviction case: 10 days, community service, $500 fine and disbarment

Michael Morton spent almost 25 years in a Texas prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, the man who put him there, will get 10 days for contempt of court after agreeing Friday to take a plea in a comprehensive settlement of all criminal and civil cases against him, according to the Associated Press and the Austin American-Statesman.

Anderson must also perform 500 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine, and he will be disbarred. Under the plea agreement, the felony evidence-tampering case he had faced concerning Morton’s 1987 trial and conviction will be dropped, as well as an attorney disciplinary case filed by the state bar, the American-Statesman reports.

Anderson was held in contempt for telling a judge during a 1987 hearing that he did not have exculpatory evidence to provide to defense counsel in Morton’s first-degree murder trial over the slaying of his wife in the family home.

Morton’s current lawyers say the DA should have revealed two police reports: One said the defendant’s 3-year-old son told the mother of Morton’s wife the defendant wasn’t home at the time of the crime, which the child saw a “monster” commit. The other said an unidentified man in a green van had parked near the Morton home and gone into the woods behind it on multiple occasions.

“It’s a good day,” Morton told the newspaper after the Georgetown hearing before District Judge Kelly Moore. “I said the only thing that I want, as a baseline, is Ken Anderson to be off the bench and no longer practicing law—and both of those things have happened, and more.”

Anderson didn’t comment, either during or after Friday’s hearing.

If convicted at trial in the felony evidence-tampering case, Anderson could have be sentenced to as much as 10 years.

Subsequent to working as the DA he served as a state court judge in Williamson County for more than a decade before resigning in September. He has previously said he is sorry Morton served time for a crime he has since been exonerated of committing, but he denied any prosecutorial wrongdoing.

See also: “Former DA jailed after judge issues scathing opinion in rare Texas court of inquiry’ “Judge facing repercussions over his long-ago work as DA resigns from bench”

Austin Community Newspapers: “The system: flawed, yet triumphant”

Houston Chronicle (op-ed): “King: Watchdog system can target misconduct”

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