ka1In a move too often rarely made, a decision is expected soon on whether Judge Ken Anderson (left) will face disciplinary action for concealing evidence of Michael Morton’s innocence more than two decades ago.  During a hearing Friday, Anderson’s attorney and that State Bar pressed the court to issue a decision on whether or not he can face disciplinary action.  His alleged misconduct is beyond the statute of limitations.  Despite a court order, legal, ethical, and Constitutional obligations to do so, Anderson withheld evidence pointing to the innocence of Michael Morton who, in 1987, was wrongly convicted in the murder of his wife and given a life sentence.  25 years later, he was exonerated.  Despite the District Attorney John Bradley fighting DNA testing for six years, the real killer Mark Alan Norwood was eventually identified through DNA testing and Morton was freed.  Norwood killed Christine Morton in 1986 and is suspected of killing Debra Baker in 1988.

According to Anderson’s lawyer, Eric Nichols, the State Bar’s claim should be invalid because it was filed 24 years after the trial and because evidence that Anderson is said to have concealed was available to the public after 1989.  The State Bar’s attorney, Laura Bayouth Popps, argued that Anderson’s files on the Morton case were not public record and could not have been obtained by the public through an information request within the statute of limitations.

“By virtue of being the lead prosecutor, Mr. Anderson had a constitutional and ethical duty to disclose this,” Popps said. “This does not take hiding the evidence in the attic or putting it in the trunk. All we have to show is that he had a duty to disclose and he didn’t.”

The State Bar also argued that the statute of limitations does not apply, alleging that Anderson took efforts to conceal the evidence throughout the years between Morton’s conviction and exoneration and thus was not a one-time offense over 20 years ago.

“We would have liked to try this. We also would have liked for Mr. Morton not to have spent 25 years in prison,” Popps said.

District Judge Kelly G. Moore will announce his decision by September 9.  Most prosecutors who violate laws to win convictions, which often result in wrongful convictions and/or sentences, face almost no risk of losing their law license, facing disciplinary action, losing their job, or losing their political goodwill.

ENLARGE_02MichaelMortonap120329069427-f9aaf627bc2301c09a25bfb9792268ec6b23f44e-s6-c30(Left:  Michael Morton when he was wrongfully arrested in 1987 for the murder of his wife.  Right:  Michael Morton, today, after his exoneration.)


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