Ex-prosecutor gives up law license after he's accused of withholding evidence that led to wrongful convictions
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Former Dallas County, Texas, prosecutor Richard E. “Rick” Jackson agreed to give up his law license last month to avoid discipline for allegedly withholding evidence that led to the wrongful convictions of two homeless men.
The Innocence Project had filed a grievance with the State Bar of Texas in 2018 accusing Jackson of withholding evidence in the trial of Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee in their 2000 trial for the murder of a pastor, report the Dallas Morning News, the Associated Press and the Washington Post.
The men spent 14 years in prison before their release in 2014 after the Dallas County district attorney agreed that the convictions should be overturned, according to the Dallas Morning News.
A state judge ruled in 2017 that the convictions should be vacated. The judge noted undisclosed benefits given to informants who testified at trial and undisclosed evidence about a witness who was unable to make a positive identification in a photo lineup. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed in 2018. The Dallas County district attorney’s office moved to dismiss the charges based on actual innocence in May 2019, citing new DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project.
Other undisclosed evidence included witness accounts about two men arguing outside the pastor’s place of business before the murder, according to the Dallas Morning News. Witnesses said one man was taller than the other and had a scar on his neck. But Allen and Mozee are the same height, and neither has a scar.
Jackson’s lawyer, Bob Hinton, told the Dallas Morning News that he gave up his law license because he didn’t want to spend his retirement savings fighting the case. Jackson retired from law practice in 2013 and now spends his summers in Alaska driving tour buses, Hinton said.
“He wasn’t at all guilty of any of the things he was charged with in that stupid grievance complaint,” Hinton told the newspaper. “If he had the financial wherewithal and he fought it, we would win it. There’s no question in my mind.”
A Texas Supreme Court order accepting Jackson’s resignation said it is in the best interest of the public and the profession.
According to the Innocence Project, only three other prosecutors have been disbarred for misconduct that led to a wrongful conviction.