Texas Judge Faces Rare Court of Inquiry for Involvement in Wrongful Conviction

Judge and former prosecutor Ken Anderson took the stand in his own defense Friday capping a week-long hearing into whether Anderson should face criminal charges for failing to disclose evidence that exonerated Michael Morton of his wife’s murder.

Morton spent 25 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him in 2011. Morton’s lawyers claim that Anderson, who prosecuted the case, withheld the transcript of an interview with Morton’s then three-year-old son who witnessed the murder. This crucial piece of evidence could have prevented Morton’s wrongful conviction because the son described the perpetrator as someone other than his father.

Anderson testified for six hours and repeatedly defended his decisions while prosecuting Morton. He became indignant at the accusations he has faced during the past 18 months since Morton was exonerated. Rusty Hardin, the appointed attorney for the state, repeatedly asked Anderson about the evidence and was incredulous when Anderson responded that he couldn’t remember.

Anderson’s testimony ended a week of sometimes dramatic and emotional testimony from many witnesses including Morton’s trial lawyers, a former assistant district attorney and Michael Morton. Judge Louis Sturns, appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to oversee the hearing, will now consider the evidence and will most likely rule later this spring.

Morton was disappointed by Anderson’s responses telling reporters outside the courtroom, “I was hoping for more. I think we saw someone who is still struggling with denial and anger.”

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