Combining tenacity with legal creativity, lawyers for Texan Michael Morton are doing something that has never been attempted in the nation’s 280 previous DNA exoneration cases, says the Austin American-Statesman: They’re investigating the prosecutor who sent Morton away for a murder he did not commit.
Armed with court-given power not typically available to defense lawyers, Morton’s legal team has pried open investigative files and forced former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson to answer questions under oath and against his will. The team has also combed court records and interviewed current and former county officials to flesh out allegations that Anderson hid evidence that could have spared Morton from serving almost 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife, Christine. Law Prof. Bennett Gershman of Pace University in White Plains, N.Y., author of books on prosecutorial ethics, said several states have created innocence commissions to examine wrongful convictions in hopes of avoiding future mistakes. Gershman he has heard of no similar post-exoneration investigations led by defense lawyers that seek to assign blame for a wrongful conviction.