Popular Posts

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Judge Ken Anderson Sued by SBOT for Hiding Evidence in Michael Morton Case

State Bar files ethics suit against Morton prosecutor A State Bar of Texas disciplinary commission has filed a lawsuit accusing former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson of violating his duty as a lawyer by intentionally withholding favorable evidence from Michael Morton, who served almost 25 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. If the allegations are found to be true after an as-yet unscheduled civil trial, Anderson — now a state district judge in Georgetown — faces punishments that could include a public reprimand, disbarment or the loss of his law license for a set amount of time. . . . According to the State Bar lawsuit, Anderson’s actions violated five rules governing the conduct of lawyers, including standards requiring prosecutors to disclose favorable evidence and lawyers not to “engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” The lawsuit said Anderson failed to disclose two written transcripts of a conversation between police and Christine Morton’s mother, Rita Kirkpatrick, who said the Mortons’ 3-year-old son had indicated he witnessed the attack and said his father was not home at the time. Kirkpatrick also told police that she no longer believed their theory that Morton was the killer, though she later became convinced of his guilt. Other undisclosed evidence, the lawsuit said, included: • Reports of a suspicious man in a green van who was seen parking in the wooded area behind the Morton house on several occasions. • A report that Christine Morton’s credit card might have been used after her death in San Antonio. • A report that a check made out to Christine Morton had been cashed after her death. . . . _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Anderson is now a state district judge in Williamson County. This is a big deal, because it is highly unusual for the Bar to go after prosecutors for ethics violations. The Supreme Court gave prosecutors a pass for institutional abuse in Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. ___ (2011) when it overturned a $14 million award by a lower court in a 5-4 decision split along ideological and partisan lines, with all five Republican appointed conservatives in the majority. The minority dissent observes that, as a matter of fact, Thompson was the victim of much more pervasive misconduct by the District Attorney's office than a single Brady violation. The Supreme Court found for the appellant, Harry Connick, Sr., and ruled that the prosecutor's office is not liable. The Innocent Man, Part One This month's Texas Monthly cover story is "An Innocent Man," by Pamela Colloff. It begins: On August 13, 1986, Michael Morton came home from work to discover that his wife had been brutally murdered in their bed. His nightmare had only begun. . . . . Scout abuse files release sparks public interest PORTLAND, Ore. — The online release of files showing the Boy Scouts of America’s cover-up of decades of sexual abuse has created interest among Americans who want to know who the alleged abusers are and whether people who molested them as Scouts are in the files. The 14,500 pages of Scout files, from 1959-1985, were posted Thursday on the website of Kelly Clark, the Portland attorney who used the files as evidence in a 2010 lawsuit he won against the Scouts. The website got more than 200,000 hits within the first few hours of the files’ posting, crashing the site. Read more: Scout abuse files release sparks public interest - Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/19/scout-abuse-files-release-sparks-public-interest/#ixzz29qroJUpL


  1. Richard,
    I know you are an expert in the abuse of seized assets in Texas by DA's, Judges and law enforcement. I have a hypothetical question as follows:

    Suppose a DA wants to make improvements to his office with cash from the seized assets fund. Before doing so, he writes the AG and asks for an opinion, listing all of the repairs and improvements. Of course this correspondence will be public record. The AG’s responds that the expenditure is OK and the DA spends the money and makes the improvements and repairs. In an unusual set of circumstances, the DA actually owns the property he is occupying as an office and paying rent to himself.

    Does the DA have a duty to disclose to the AG’s office in his request for a legal opinion on the expenditure that he holds title to the real estate which is being improved with the funds?

    If he fails to disclose this relationship, is it unethical behavior? Could it rise to the level of criminal behavior?

    Please give me the benefit of your thoughts on this situation.

    Thank you very much,


  2. I'd need more information but it doesn't pass the smell test, does it? Common sense would probably be that the failure to disclose the information would be equivalent to fraudulent concealment, but how often do the courts or the AG use common sense? If you'll provide more information I'll look into it. Just post a comment anonymously and I won't publish it until I've investigated. Thanks for the tip.