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Legal Ethics

Special Court to Probe Claims Ex-DA, Now a Texas Judge, Concealed Murder Case Evidence 25 Years Ago

Posted Feb 16, 2012 5:32 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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After a probable cause finding concerning accusations that Williamson County Judge Ken Anderson concealed evidence from the defense while serving as a lead prosecutor in a murder trial 25 years ago, the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court today ordered that a court of inquiry be held.

Judge Louis Sturns of Fort Worth was appointed to oversee the highly unusual case, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Sturns is expected to appoint a special prosecutor to pursue the case against Anderson, who was Williamson County's district attorney at the time of the trial at issue in the court of inquiry, the Associated Press reports.

No timetable has yet been set concerning when the proceeding will begin.

Michael Morton, now 57, was freed from prison last year after serving 24 years for the murder of his wife, according to the AP. He had maintained his innocence, saying that she was slain by an intruder after he left for work, and DNA evidence finally showed that he had not committed the crime.

Anderson, who has apologized for what he calls a systemic failure but says he did nothing wrong as a prosecutor, is accused of concealing from the defense exculpatory evidence.

Among facts that were allegedly kept by Anderson from Morton’s trial lawyers were that the slain woman’s credit card was used after her death and statements by the couple’s 3-year-old son, who said he had seen the murder and another man was responsible, the AP reports.

"This is a historic moment for Texas justice," attorney John Raley of Houston said today. He has represented Morton pro bono for years.

Eric Nichols, one of the lawyers representing Anderson, said his client looks foward to the court of inquiry as "an opportunity to do whatever we can at this point to clear Judge Anderson's good name."

Earlier coverage:

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

ABAJournal.com: "Special Court Should Probe Claims that Ex-DA Withheld Evidence in Murder Case, Judge Says"

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