Sunday, April 15, 2012

It is a terrible thing to be wrongfully convicted of a awful crime. Yet, It happens all the time. Prosecutors, yeah the lawyers that can put you in jail forever with a successful rant can never be sued for damages when they are wrong. The Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors have absolute immunity from civil lawsuits for their legal work. That means even if they are the main person who made you look horrible to society wrongly, they will never be held accountable for their mistake. Other professionals and other types of lawyers and doctors and cops are sued all the time for possible errors in their judgments. Why not prosecuting attorneys?
So, a cop takes you away. They accuse you of murder. They put you away for a life sentence. 30 years later DNA evidence proves that you did not commit any crime. The prosecutor, the lawyer who put you away wrongly gets to keep doing his thing as if nothing has happened. With the benefit of DNA evidence, the ability to check blood types of people on clothing and other saved fabrics; the new evidence can and does prove that many of the accused were never even near the crime scene and therefore innocent, yes, they could not have committed murder.
It is not everyday that a convicted murderer gets to clear his name and is able to return to court to argue that his prosecutor is the one to be prosecuted but that is what happened recently in a high profile case in Texas. It also makes you think of the amount of power that prosecuting Attorney's have and what happens when they are accused of misusing their power.
There is a real life person Michael Morton who was once an ordinary citizen with a wife and child and a job and no criminal record but then he was sent to prison for life. So, If you have a “boring life” be happy and glad that nothing really changes from day to day. In 1987 in a very public trial, Michael was convicted of brutally murdering his wife. Even as he was being led to prison, he insisted that he was innocent. Hardly anyone believed him. Until last year when he was exonerated, yes let free , by the new evidence of DNA testing.
By then he has spent nearly 25 years of his life behind bars. His nightmare began in 1986 when he came home from work in Austin ,Texas and found the Sheriff at his house. A neighbor had discovered his 3 year old son , Eric alone in the yard and then found his wife Christine bludgeoned to death in the bedroom. He found every question put to him as being accusatory and within 6 weeks he was arrested.
Ken Anderson the Williamson Co, District Atty. prosecuted Michael Morton and told the jury that he killed his wife because she wouldn’t have sex with him. There was no murder weapon or direct evidence linking Morton to the crime. Ken argued persuasively that Michael was violent and unremorseful. Michael and his lawyers always thought that there was key evidence that was ignored and not presented or made available during the trial. He never even got complete access to the filed police report.
It wasn’t until recently after years of legal wrangling that lawyers Barry Schick and Nina Morrison of the “Innocense Project” and another private Attorney from Houston finally got a look at Anderson’s files from the original trial and noticed a important piece of evidence that was never presented to anyone during the trial that would have proven Michael’s innocence. The report that the child Eric, told the Grandmother that he saw a big man with a large moustache hit mommy a lot and Daddy wasn’t there.
There also was a investigative report of a neighbor that stated that she saw a male park a green van on the street and saw a man go behind the house. This is precisely the kind of evidence that a prosecutor is legally and ethically obligated to disclose. You know, it is easier to close cases as quickly as possible than to undergo costly long investigations, perhaps that is why Anderson was quick to accuse and close the case.
The DNA was collected on a bloody bandanna found at the crime scene. They found Christine’s blood and the DNA of a known felon who still wears a large moustache who has since been arrested for her murder. The prosecutor still is working and Michael Morrison has been let free and has reunited with his adult son and has received nearly $2 Million dollars under a Texas law that provides compensation for people that are wrongly convicted. Perhaps there are alot of  accountability issues in Texas that need to be addressed to justify this new compensation law.
Eventually some kind of justice does prevail.

No comments:

Post a Comment