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Legal Ethics

Special Court Should Probe Claims that Ex-DA Withheld Evidence in Murder Case, Judge Says

Posted Feb 13, 2012 11:25 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Texas judge is recommending that a special court of inquiry consider allegations that a former prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence, contributing to a wrongful murder conviction.

District Judge Sid Harle found probable cause to believe that former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson violated state law, report the Austin American-Statesman and a press release by the Innocence Project. Harle said a special review court would balance competing needs, including the public’s need for information in the case.

The exonerated man, Michael Morton, was freed after spending 25 years in prison. DNA evidence points to another suspect in the murder of Morton’s wife.

Harle also said the hearing could give Anderson, now a district judge, a chance to clear his name, according to the American-Statesman story. "I personally cannot imagine, having been a former prosecutor, a worse stain or tarnish on a prosecutor's reputation, integrity or legacy," Harle said.

The judge’s recommendation now goes to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson for review.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: " ‘Extraordinary Legal Event’ Unfolds as Man Exonerated of Wife’s Murder Seeks to Hold DA Accountable"

ABAJournal.com: "Ex-Prosecutor, Now a Judge, Accused of Hiding Exculpatory Evidence"

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