Blogs » On the Docket » Mulitple bills filed after alleged prosecutorial misconduct


Wow. It's 2013. When did that happen and why aren't we driving hover cars like the Jetsons?

Now that I've acknowledged in a roundabout way that I've unfortunately neglected this blog for a long time, I thought I'd give you a little follow up to a story I worked on a few months ago about a piece of legislation that I'm told would alter the discovery process between Texas prosecutors and defense attorneys if it were to pass.

Some say Senate Bill 91, proposed by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, stemmed from the case of Michael Morton, a man who was released after serving 25 years in prison for the bludgeoning death of his wife after some new evidence implicated another man in the crime.

Ken Anderson, who is now a district judge in Williamson County, went before a Texas Court of Inquiry in late February for alleged prosecutorial misconduct, or withholding this information, during Morton's 1987 trial.

The Texas Tribune is reporting that the Texas Court of Inquiry judge is set to decide whether Anderson should face criminal charges this spring. This comes after Anderson said during a rare hearing that he was not required to turn over what investigators found more than two decades ago. His lawyers have also argued that a statute of limitations for an offense such as this has long since passed.

And that's where Senate Bill 825, filed by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, on Feb. 26, could come in. If passed, it clarifies the statute of limitations for an offense such as this by saying the clock would start after the wrongfully convicted person is released from prison. Right now, there is a four-year statute of limitations.

The Texas District and County Attorneys Association responded to the Innocence Project's assertion that there were 91 alleged instances of prosecutorial misconduct in which the State Bar of Texas failed to publicly discipline those responsible. In its own September 2012 study, the TDCAA said prosecutorial misconduct was "exceedingly rare" (six of more than 4.3 million cases from 2004–2008). It added that there were some discrepancies in the way in which the Innocence Project collected and analyzed the data. You can read the TDCAA’s report here.

Also, check out the Houston Chronicle's interactive project, which looks at Texas’ exonerees, here.

A photojournalist there explains the idea behind the images he captured in the following video: