Friday, December 19, 2014

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State Bar files disciplinary action against District Judge Ken Anderson

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Williamson County District Judge Ken Anderson is in more legal hot water in relation to the wrongful prosecution of Michael Morton in 1987. The State Bar of Texas has filed a lawsuit against Anderson.

A disciplinary petition accuses Anderson of withholding five pieces of evidence considered favorable to Morton's defense. The four-page brief says Anderson violated the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct on five counts.

The allegations against Anderson are that, as district attorney, he knew of the following evidence, but chose not to disclose it during Morton's original trial more than 25 years ago:

1. A memo to acting sheriff and chief investigator on the case, Don Wood, which described a telephone tip that a bank check made payable to Christine Morton was cashed nine days after her murder.

2. A phone message to Wood that said a credit card belonging to Christine Morton was located at a San Antonio store.

3. A report from the sheriff's deputy which described testimony from neighbors that a man in a green van was seen parked in the street behind the Morton residence several times before the murder.

4. A transcript of a taped interview between Christine Morton's mother, Rita Kirkpatrick, and the Morton's 3-year-old son. The toddler told his grandmother he witnessed the crime, and blatantly stated his "father was not home at the time of the murder," according to the petition.

5. A report by Wood written days after the murder, which detailed the aforementioned transcript. Also, during a pre-trial hearing, Anderson told the court he had "no evidence favorable to the accused."

In a statement released Friday, Anderson's attorney Eric Nichols said:

We respectfully disagree with the positions taken and the allegations made by the State Bar Disciplinary Counsel. Incorrect allegations that were first made by attorneys representing Mr. Morton have unraveled over time and will continue to do so. We will defend against these allegations in the public forum of a court of law.

Anderson was the district attorney who prosecuted Michael Morton for the 1986 murder of his wife, Christine Morton. She was found bludgeoned to death in the Morton home in far northwest Austin. Michael Morton was arrested two weeks after his wife's death. Led by Anderson, investigators created a theory that Morton was a crazed sex-addict who, in a violent rage, beat to death his wife for refusing sex on their wedding anniversary. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

After 24 years behind bars, Morton was released from state custody last October. The Texas judge ruled the 57-year-old man "actually innocent." The Texas Supreme Court ordered a court of inquiry, which effectively requiring Anderson to defend his actions in a criminal court.

Anderson continues to maintain his innocence. The court of inquiry is set for Dec. 10.

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