Let’s say you were arrested and accused of murdering your spouse. In spite of your innocence, cops are hell bent on stripping you of your liberty. Worse, an overzealous prosecutor seems determined to see you rot in prison for life. He even does the unthinkable. He intentionally hides evidence of your innocence, ensuring an unfair trial. You’re convicted and sentenced to life. During your brutal incarceration, the prosecutor’s career flourishes, even becoming a well respected judge. After 25 years in prison, it is finally revealed that the prosecutor, now a judge, never disclosed that the only eye-witnesses of the crime said that you weren’t the culprit. Fortunately, you’re finally free from prison. What should happen to the prosecutor?
Unfortunately, most of the hypothetical provided above was real. That all did happen to Michael Morton, who really did serve 25 years for murdering his wife, in spite of his innocence. Thanks to former Texas prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson, more than two and a half decades of Morton’s freedom was taken from him.
In light of the evidence against him, Anderson pled guilty to criminal contempt. His sentence? Well, for starters, he had to give up his law license. He also has to perform 500 hours of community service. What about prison time? How much did he get? What amount of time do you believe is sufficient punishment for Morton’s “rotting away” in prison unnecessarily for twenty-five years? The answer in a moment.
It’s important to understand that while most law enforcement officers and prosecutors would never engage in this type of behavior, unfortunately, these types of act are more common than you might think. What’s uncommon is for cops and/or prosecutors to actually suffer any meaningful penalties. Jail and/or prison time almost never is imposed against rogue cops and prosecutors.
In Ken Anderson’s case, he will only be going to jail for ten days. I know, it’s outrageous. Hopefully, this is just the start of a trend of accountability for cops and prosecutors who engage in this type of egregious behavior.