Henry Thompson — September 30, 2013 @ 2:01 PM — Comments (0)
A man has waited on death row in Texas for his exoneration for twenty years. Hank Skinner was convicted of murdering his then girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons in January of 1993. The police failed to investigate another potential suspect, Twila’s uncle, who had a history of violent activity and molestation. At the trial, there was little mention of exculpatory evidence due to the fact that Skinner was at the scene of the murder. Upon his conviction, the jury recommended the death penalty. Skinner has been languishing on death row in Texas for twenty years all the while maintaining his innocence.
Now thanks to DNA testing Skinner may have a shot at regaining his freedom. Twila Busby’s uncle had often worn a jacket that was similar to the jacket found next to her body. Upon testing some hair on the jacket and in Twila’s hand it was found that the hairs belonged to her uncle. The District Attorney had made a promise to Hank Skinner that DNA testing would be allowed and taken into account though upon the test results being revealed the D.A was reticent to fulfill that promise.
After years of appeals and Skinner’s lawyers unsuccessfully fighting his case, Hank was to be executed, though at the last minute the state of Texas issued a stay of execution. Just one year later, the courts ruled that he would have access to the biological evidence in his case and justice would be served. Unfortunately for Hank and conveniently for Texas the original jacket that had already been tested was lost. However the hairs were still available. DNA testing on the hairs excluded Skinner and revealed a potential match to Twila’s uncle.
While the legal wrangling and testing has been going on, Hank was living on death row. Spending the majority of his days in a cramped small cell eating terrible food has begun to take its toll. Hank Skinner was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis recently and is back on death row while a resolution to his case is pending. What’s worse is that Twila Busby’s uncle, the only other suspect in the case, has been deceased for years and his body must be exhumed for Hank Skinner to be freed.
We all hope that Hank Skinner can stay healthy enough to see his family and friends again. More information about Hank Skinner’s case can be found at The Huffington Post and HankSkinner.org.
Henry Thompson — September 30, 2013 @ 1:53 PM — Comments (0)
Women are treated differently by the justice system in the United States. Their cases are often fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, falsifying or withholding evidence, and gender-based bias.
In many cases the bias against women by prosecutors, judges, and juries is often pivotal in deciding the case. This bias will often lead to vilification of a woman on the grounds that the crime was committed out of passion, rage, or another archaic nonsensical reason that parrots stereotypes of characteristics of women. In many cases women are convicted using circumstantial evidence. In recent years the plight that women face within the judicial system has begun to be studied by the law community. According to the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law School “In 64% of female exonerees’ cases, no crime had occurred” and “40% of female exonerees were victims of police or prosecutorial misconduct”. Thanks to Northwestern University Law School and others this demographic information regarding women and wrongful convictions has shed more light on a significant problem.
In one such case, Cynthia Sommer was convicted of poisoning her husband with arsenic and charged with murder. At her trial, a defense forensic toxicologist testified that if her husband had indeed been poisoned with arsenic, then high levels of the chemical would have been found throughout his body; and this was not the case as arsenic was found in only his liver and kidneys. Cynthia Sommer was convicted nevertheless and spent ten months in prison until she was able to prove her innocence based on ineffective assistance of counsel. For whatever reason, Cynthia Sommer’s defense attorney failed to argue on the merits of the toxicologist’s findings and in turn she almost served a life sentence in prison.
In another case, Gloria Killian was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder, burglary, robbery, and conspiracy. These charges were brought against her with no evidence and they were based solely on the testimony of one man, Gary Masse. This false testimony proved to be enough for the Sacramento, CA sheriff’s office to arrest her. Masse later admitted that his testimony against Killian was a lie and he had tried to make a deal with the prosecution for leniency in his own case in exchange for the testimony. Killian’s conviction was overturned and she was released in August 2002 after being imprisoned for 16 years.
Both of the cases of these women indicate how easy it has become to be convicted of a crime you didn’t commit due to gender-biased evidence and false testimonies. In the case of Gloria Killian, the word of a convicted male murderer was trusted over that of an innocent woman to such an extent that she lost 16 years of her life.
Harris was recently released from prison after a wrongful conviction through a forced confession at the hands of the Chicago Police Department. She had served seven years of a 30-year sentence. Information about the upcoming wrongful conviction lecture can be found at Roosevelt University.
Henry Thompson — September 18, 2013 @ 10:00 AM — Comments (0)
Legislative action passed in California last week will improve the process by which wrongfully convicted Californians will receive compensation for their time served. Senate Bill 618 will streamline the process allowing those who are exonerated to receive their funds quicker and with less hassle. The Bill’s author, Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said “[t]his effort helps prevent the state’s faulty administrative process from perpetrating yet another wrong on these innocent individuals who deserve and need our help to get back on their feet and on with their lives.” For more information visit the California Senators news page here.
Recently, the wrongfully convicted man Carl Chatman was released from prison after serving nine years for a rape he did not commit. Many citizens have expressed outrage at the lack of response from the justice system in regards to Chatman’s accuser. The woman who accused Chatman of raping her had a previous experience in which she accused another man of the same crime. Unfortunately, Mr. Chatman’s situation is not a unique one. Due to the statute of limitations regarding perjury in Illinois, Chatman’s accuser cannot be punished. For more information about Carl Chatman visit the Chicago Sun-Times.
Barri White, a wrongfully convicted man, served six years in high-security jail for the murder of his girlfriend in 2002. In 2005, the BBC investigated his case and found the forensic evidence used to convict him was false and his case had been one of false accusations and demonization. Mr. White stated “I am still fighting, I have had enough of fighting, I deserve a life back. Getting compensation and an apology from the police, that would be my justice. It was six years of my life, my whole 20s, pretty much. They’re supposed to be the best years of your life but I was rotting in jail. Nothing can make up for that. No amount of money is going to bring my six years back.” The BBC program ‘Life after life: Barri and Keith’s story’ aired Monday Sept. 16th in the UK and will be available later online. Information can be found at the BBC.
Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson-Canino
Ronald Cotton was mistakenly identified and wrongfully convicted of raping Jennifer Thompson-Canino in 1984. Cotton was exonerated in June 1995 after DNA testing proved he was not the rapist. In an unusual turn of events, he and Jennifer have become friends and often appear together talking about wrongful convictions and incarceration. The two have written a book, “Picking Cotton“, and are to the keynote speakers at the centerpiece of Miami University (of Ohio) Regional Campus’ upcoming Criminal Justice Week. More information about the talks can be found at the Journal News.
They are also scheduled to be in Jacksonville at both of the Florida State College campuses in March 2014.
In Louisiana recently an exonerated man who was cleared of rape charges finds himself in court again. Darrin Hill, a 47 year old man who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, had been in prison for more than ten years for a rape he did not commit. His accuser pointed him out in a lineup and he was convicted quickly. Over the past 13 years Hill had been in and out of mental hospitals and jails. In 2010, a sexual assault kit that was used by doctors to examine Hill’s accuser was found by staff members of the federal National Institute of Justice-funded Orleans Parish Post-conviction DNA Testing Project. DNA testing revealed that Hill’s DNA was not present but rather the testing revealed the DNA of another man. Hill was exonerated with the help of Innocence Project New Orleans and charges were dropped. Now Hill has to face his accuser again as she refutes her earlier claim that he was her rapist. More information can be found at The Advocate.
Henry Thompson — September 05, 2013 @ 8:00 AM — Comments (0)
In the news last week were two men who have both claimed to be innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted for more than 35 years. The battle for justice is over for both of them, but for very different reasons. On August 28th, Anthony McKinney died while attempting to prove his innocence and regain his life. On August 29th, Milton Scarborough was given back his life and released from prison after 36 years of denying his guilt.
On August 29th, 2013 Milton Scarborough, 73, of Pennsylvania, was released from prison for a murder he was convicted of in 1976. Scarborough was not found innocent and his conviction still stands as he was released through a deal made between him and the courts. Scarborough has been challenging his wrongful conviction case at the state and federal level, as well as denying his guilt for decades without success. Scarborough contends that with DNA testing he would be exonerated of his crime. A Pennsylvania Superior Court decision noted that the absence of Scarborough’s DNA at the crime scene does not ensure that he was not present at the crime. About a month after this decision was made to not fund DNA testing for Scarborough, however, Lycoming District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt announced that Scarborough would be released to his family. He will be monitored by the courts for the duration of his sentence as a condition of the agreement. If Scarborough would have won an appeal, to retry him would have been difficult and expensive for the state to pursue due to a lack of witnesses and valid testimonies.
On Wednesday August 28, just one day before Scarborough’s release, a man who was desperately trying to prove his innocence died while still in prison. Anthony McKinney was found deceased in his cell yesterday with the cause of death yet to be determined, though foul play is not suspected. McKinney was arrested in 1978 for the murder of a security guard. At 18 years old, McKinney pled guilty after being beaten with pipes by police. Although there were witnesses who stated that McKinney was not present at the murder scene, Anthony McKinney stayed imprisoned for 35 years.
In McKinney’s case, his imprisoned life led to his untimely death at age 53. McKinney is a victim of the backlog of cases upon cases that are waiting at the door of courthouses around the country. Along with the large amounts of time taken to prove innocence, prosecutorial bias can slow the process as well. The Illinois court system failed in its duty to provide justice for all people.
These two cases reflect the priorities of these two justice systems. In either case, the courts and the prosecution had motives for either responding to an inmate’s cries for justice or ignoring them. These actions, as all of the actions of any public official, should be constantly monitored and judged on the basis of fairness and justice.
Henry Thompson — September 04, 2013 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)
Here is a roundup of some highlights in the news recently about exonerations or exonerees who are building their lives after prison.
Exoneree Brian Banks who famously made his way back to the NFL and football recently has unfortunately been cut from the Atlanta Falcons roster. Banks played during the preseason, and recorded two tackles in a game August 9th. Although this is a setback in Banks’ improbable quest for an NFL roster spot, he has not let this news discourage him as he will be a free agent available to another team in need of a linebacker. The Atlanta Falcons administration appreciates Banks’ effort and heart, and has said that there is a role for Banks at the Atlanta Falcons whether on the field or not. More information can be found at ESPN.
In Clark County Washington Alan Northrop expressed his gratitude recently when receiving news about his forthcoming compensation for the 17 years he spent wrongfully imprisoned. Through DNA evidence and support from the Innocence Project Northwest, Northrop was freed. For more information about Northrop visit The Columbian.
After being in prison for 17 years, 12 of which were on death row, for a crime he did not commit , Randy Steidl now enjoys his freedom more than most. Steidl has taken to touring the country and giving speeches on the death penalty and its implications. More information can be found at WDRB.com.
Exoneree James Kluppleberg has been out of prison for more than a year and yet he still struggles to provide for himself and his family due to the stigma of being incarcerated. He explains that the general public does not understand the concept of exoneration. Kluppleberg applied for a written certificate from the state proving his innocence and exoneration. On August 6, 2013 Kluppelberg received that certificate and will now hopefully find an easier path to leading a normal life. Read more at CBS Chicago.
A student who was detained by the DEA for five days without food or water has recently won a lawsuit granting him $4.1 million in damages. What’s troubling about this award is whether or not he will have to pay taxes to the IRS on it. Read more about Daniel Chong at Forbes Magazine.
Sharon Snyder, an employee of a local clerk of court, was recently fired for passing a document describing in detail how to file a request for postconviction DNA testing to Robert Nelson. Nelson had been in prison since 1984 and Snyder’s vital act of sharing information ended up allowing Nelson to obtain exonerative DNA results that led to the overturning of his wrongful conviction. Read more at The Huffington Post.
Under what appear to be shady circumstances, the presiding judge in a case of a soon-to-be exonerated prisoner in Chicago, Stanley Wrice, has just recused herself for seemingly personal reasons. Wrice was beaten and tortured into a confessing to a gang rape in 1982. Judge Evelyn Clay was presiding over Wrice’s proceeding when suddenly she was called to meet with her superior. After said meeting Clay stated that she had personal knowledge of those involved and could no longer be the judge in charge. Rumors abound that Clay’s superior has/had ties to former Mayor Daly’s (who’s brother is currently running for Governor of Illinois) and that those ties influenced the recusal decision. Read more at The Huffington Post Chicago.
Henry Thompson — September 03, 2013 @ 12:45 PM — Comments (0)
Many of those who are exonerated of crimes they did not commit often leave prison and enter a world where they are alone. Many exonerees that are without the care of family or friends, some of whom have been in prison for 10 or 20 or more years, struggle with re-integrating into society. The lack of support given to them by the prison system and their state government is appalling and needs to be addressed by a larger audience.
Recent exoneree Johnnie O’Neal
Not only do many exonerees need counseling upon their release but more often than not exonerees rightfully seek compensation for time served. Exonerees are given no assistance in seeking out legal expertise needed to help with their problems. One such man who was recently exonerated from a New York prison is Johnnie O’Neal. O’Neal served 28 years for a rape he did not commit. In a case of mistaken identity, O’Neal was arrested and sent to prison in 1985 and was denied parole on multiple occasions, because he denied ever committing the crime. O’Neal was initially released in 1998 on parole and had subsequent minor parole violations.
With the help of the Legal Aid Society in New York, O’Neal’s wrongful conviction was rectified in 2013. After being labeled a violent sex offender for more than 10 years, the Legal Aid Society helped reopen the case in 2010 and O’Neal was exonerated three years later on July 15, 2013.
O’Neal has stated that he will bring a lawsuit against those responsible for his wrongful incarceration and the subsequent difficulties he experienced in supporting himself as an ex-convict and an accused sex offender.
O’Neal’s case draws attention to the lack of support for and acknowledgement of the problems exonerees face upon their release. O’Neal now must search out the right course of action to somehow gain redress for his his time served and opportunities lost.
Northrop, 49, spent 17 years in prison for rape until his exoneration in 2010 due to DNA evidence.
Under House Bill 1341, Northrop is eligible to receive $50,000 for each year he was imprisoned plus payment of all child support debt. According to the bill, if Northrop receives restitution for all 17 years he will receive a total amount of $850,000.
The amount of money provided by the state is a large amount, but will never make up for the time stolen from Northrop and his children; however, it is a step in the right direction to correct this terrible wrong.
As of now, only 27 states plus Washington D.C. have statues providing compensation for the wrongfully convicted. Under the new Washington bill about a dozen more exonerees will be eligible for restitution.
Since his exoneration, Northrop has been working to rebuild his life and reconnecting with his three children. The new bill also provides his three children with free tuition at state universities until age 26.
Congratulations to Alan Northrop, and his children; their daddy is finally home.
This was the plea deal Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley took in 2011 in order to walk out of prison free men after being convicted in the 1993 murder of three 8 year old West Memphis boys. Since their original arrest, these young men became known as the West Memphis Three as each of them fought against the State of Arkansas to prove their innocence.
The West Memphis Three spent 18 years behind bars before being brought back into the courtroom after DNA evidence was found that linked other men to the murders. Unfortunately, the West Memphis Three were not fully exonerated as each of them had to enter Alford pleas in order to be released from prison and returned to their families. The judge accepted the plea stating that the West Memphis Three maintained their innocence but plead guilty to the murder of the young boys.
When a conviction is overturned, the State Attorney’s Office is given latitude with a choice to re-prosecute an individual or vacate the conviction on the grounds of innocence or insufficient evidence. When the prosecution decides to re-try an individual whose conviction has been overturned, the Alford Plea can become an option. The individual must decide whether or not the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict. One can either accept the Alford Plea therefore pleading guilty but still maintaining their innocence or risk attending a second trial with the possibility of being re-convicted.
“An individual accused of crime may voluntarily, knowingly, and understandingly consent to the imposition of a prison sentence even if he is unwilling or unable to admit his participation in the acts constituting the crime.”
The plea is in fact a guilty plea, but means the defendant enters the plea without admitting to the guilt itself. The defendant recognizes the prosecution has significant evidence to secure a guilty conviction, but chooses to plead guilty to a lesser charge; therefore reducing the sentence while maintaining his or her innocence. The defendant is given the sentence and must serve just as one would if a guilty plea was taken.
While the use of the plea is fairly rare, Henry Alford nor the West Memphis Three are not the only ones to have used the Alford Plea.
In 1998, Anthony Murray was convicted of first-degree murder. In 2012, with the help of the Illinois Innocence Project, Murray’s conviction was reviewed and ultimately overturned by an associate judge in Marion County. Unfortunately for Murray, his legal battle would not end with his overturned conviction.
Anthony Murray entered an Alford Plea in order to be released from prison. Discussing Murray’s case, The Illinois Times stated,
“Under the threat that the states attorney would bring him to trial again, in order to gain his freedom Murray was forced to accept a plea to second-degree murder and was released on time served. By pleading to a lesser crime while still maintaining that he was innocent of all charges, the “Alford Plea” allowed him to return home to his mother and family, but certainly left a stain on him and on what the Illinois Innocence Project believes should have been a complete exoneration.”
Much like the West Memphis Three, Murray saw the plea bargain as a way to return to his family. While the plea would leave a mark on his record, the Alford Plea allowed for Murray to go home and begin to enjoy life on the outside once again.
In regards to the specific West Memphis Three case, CBS News had a statement that rings true across the board for all those who choose to accept the Alford Plea stating, “It’s a compromise, pure and simple. Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were allowed to continue to insist they were innocent, but they had to plead guilty. In return, they were given freedom and the State got its convictions.”
The Alford Plea is not used on often in a court of law and is not entirely an ideal case regarding an exoneration. But when the Alford Plea is accepted by the judge and the prosecution, it allows for the wrongfully convicted to return to family and begin to adapt to life outside of the dreary prison walls.
In Miami Dade County, an average case load for a public defender is 500 felonies and 225 misdemeanors according to democracynow.org. In the United States, an estimated 80 percent of people who are facing charges are poor and rely on court appointed counsel.
The perception of these attorneys is negative. Stereotypes depict them as emotionless souls whose goal is to aid in the incarceration of those who can’t afford an attorney. The term “Public Pretenders” or “Dump Truck” is used by defendants and citizens who have negative feelings towards public defenders or defense attorneys.
However, it’s imperative that we ask is the reputation that public defenders are given fair?
The Evolution of the Right to Counsel
Contrary to popular belief, the right to counsel didn’t always mean an attorney would be provided to those who can’t afford one. It wasn’t until 1938 that the case Johnson vs. Zerbst ruled that legal representation must be provided for those without the means to obtain an attorney. However, this ruling only applied to federal cases.
Four years later, Betts vs. Brady ruled that an ordinary person can represent himself unless he had a mental or physical deficiency, the case was unusually complicated, or the case involved special circumstances. This left defendants in state and local cases to defend themselves.
Gideon vs Wainwright In 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with breaking into a pool room with the intent to commit a misdemeanor. Because he could not afford an attorney, he requested that the court appoint him one. His plea was denied due to the Betts vs. Brady (1942) ruling. Gideon represented himself and was found guilty.
Later, Gideon filed a petition stating his constitutional rights had been denied when the courts refused to provide him counsel. Using law books he found in prison, he drafted a petition to the U.S Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.
The supreme court unanimously ruled in favor of Gideon.
“The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment required that the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees indigent defendants the Right to Counsel in federal criminal proceedings, be interpreted to include indigent defendants in state criminal trials.”
Gideon was later retried with a court appointed attorney and was found not guilty.
The State of the Public Defender
The differences in the prosecutors and the public defenders office are vast, and can lead one to wonder if the legal system really cares about providing well-equipped attorneys for those who can’t afford one.
We’ll begin with differences in salaries. For prosecutors:
”The average annual salary for assistant prosecutors ranged from $33,460 for entry-level assistant prosecutors in part time offices to $108,434 for assistant prosecutors with 6 or more years of experience in offices serving jurisdictions of 1 million or more residents.”
“Minimum entry-level salaries for assistant public defenders ranged from about $37,000 to $58,000, with a median salary of $46,000 per year. More experienced (6 years or more) assistant public defenders earned a median salary between $60,000 and $78,000.”
There are also huge differences in budgets between the two offices as well. In 2007, the prosecutors office had an operating budget of more than $5.8 billion. Public defenders expenditures in 2007 were more than $2.3 billion.
The number of attorney’s employed by the prosecutors office is more than double of that of the public defenders office. While more than 15,000 full-time attorney’s were employed by public defenders offices, and more than 34,000 were employed by the prosecutors office.
It is widely known that due to heavy caseloads, many defendants plead guilty with the advisement of their public defenders. This leads to the perception that these attorney’s do not work in the favor of their clients. However, under heavy caseloads and long hours. Can it be argued that they are doing the best with what they are given?
The statistics above show a very underfunded and understaffed public defenders office in comparison to the prosecutors offices. The budgets for these offices continue to decrease will the caseloads rise.
The American Bar Association states a public defender can competently handle 150 to 200 cases. Yet, in Miami-Dade County that number more than triples the recommendation. Some public defenders are so swamped with cases that they never even meet with their clients.
A caseload of over 700 cases, gives an attorney less than half of a day to prepare for it, and this is only if the attorney works seven days a week. During a normal 40-hour work week, it would mean about 3 minutes per case. It is almost insane to believe that any attorney can function to the best of his or her ability under these circumstances.
The blame lies once again with our government and the way the system is set up. The funds and resources set aside to aid the accused continues to decline while “crime” rises. One can argue that the legal system is currently violating the rights of citizens by supplying defendants will ill prepared attorneys with no intention to rectify the growing problem. How can a public defenders possibly continue to function under these conditions? My answer is, they can’t.
Last year public defenders in Pennsylvania and in Miami began declining new cases due to limited resources. Public Defenders in Pennsylvania filed a class-action suit for underfunding.
While these offices are declining cases and trying to obtain more resources, who suffers? The ones unable to afford legal representation. This person may have to sit in jail for an indefinite amount of time waiting on an attorney or represent themselves. Leaving more poor people to be subjected to the injustices of the legal system.
There is too much blame placed on public defenders, when in fact it is the system that needs change. If you still have doubts, take a second and explain how you would handle 725 cases in one year.
A new documentary, Gideon’s Army, aims to change the negative perceptions of public defenders by following the lives of three dedicated attorneys who are referred to as “true believers.” In the mist of low pay, heavy cases, long hours, and little resources these individuals truly fight for the rights of their clients.
Featured in the documentary is Travis Williams, a senior attorney at the Hall County Public Defenders office in Gainesville, Georgia. In a clip from the documentary, Williams expresses how he aspired to become a public defender due to the mistreatment he witnessed and received from police officers when he was growing up.
Williams works seven days a week, because in his opinion five days isn’t enough to get the job done. Out of the 24 cases he has fought, he has only lost 8. For every lost he tattoos the last name on his back.
Take a few minutes and watch this short clip from the documentary.
What do you think? Should the blame be placed on the public defenders, the system, or both. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
In August 2011 post-conviction DNA testing proved Michael Morton an innocent man. After spending nearly 25 years behind bars for the wrongful conviction of the murder of his wife Christine, Morton was finally able to regain the life that he had left behind. Morton has since filed a court of inquiry against Ken Anderson, the district attorney whose prosecution led to Morton’s wrongful conviction. Ken Anderson now serves as a judge for the State of Texas and denies that any misconduct occurred during Morton’s trial in 1987.
The Huffington Post defined a court of inquiry as “ a rarely used proceeding held when officials or public servants are accused of wrongdoing.” In a system where the officials are highly protected, a court of inquiry call into question the actions of those in the prosecution.
Christine Morton was beaten to death with a wooden object in the morning in August 1986. The lead investigator of the crime collected evidence that included: a police report of neighbors claiming that a man owning a green van frequented the area around the Morton home around the time of the murder, a report of the couple’s young son, Eric, who was a witness to the horrific murder of his mother claiming that a “monster”, not his father, had killed his mother while his father was gone, unidentified fingerprints as well as an unidentified foot print in the backyard. There was a substantial amount of evidence indicating that Morton had not committed the murder. However, the defense was not made aware of any of this evidence; and hence the jury did not hear any of it. The jury convicted Morton on circumstantial evidence. He was sentenced to a life in prison.
The Texas Tribune states, “Anderson insisted that there was no judge’s order requiring him to turn over that evidence. He also argued that although he was not required under law or by a judge’s order to give Morton’s lawyers the transcript or the green van report that he must have told them about it. He said he had no “independent recollection” of doing so, but faulted Morton’s lawyers for not following up on the information.”
Throughout the court of inquiry hearings, Anderson continually denied concealing exculpatory evidence and simply claims the justice system “screwed up.” If Morton was held accountable for a crime he did not commit, Anderson needs to face the same accountability. Anderson wrongfully stole 25 years from a man in which a multitude of evidence proved he was innocent. Rather than admit the system was prosecuting the wrong individual, Anderson chose to suppress the evidence and continue with legal proceedings.
Discussing Anderson and the case, Morton stated, ”I think we saw someone who is still struggling with denial and anger,” he said, “and possibly a man who has spent at least three decades in a position of power and for the first time has had to answer for his actions, and he’s very uncomfortable with that.”
As the proceeding came to a close Friday, February 8, the Judge presiding over the case is waiting on both the defense and the prosecution to file additional papers. His decision should be made within the next couple of months.
For now the public is left to question, was Morton’s conviction a result of prosecutorial misconduct or is Anderson just as innocent as he claims?
Any views or opinions expressed by the content writers or those providing comments on the blog Plain Error do not necessarily represent the official position of the Innocence Project of Florida or views of individual members of its board of directors. The Innocence Project of Florida makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of any information provided herein.