Posted: September 3, 2013 2:00 PM
A decision is expected soon on whether Williamson County Prosecutor Ken Anderson will face disciplinary charges for concealing evidence of Michael Morton’s innocence.
During a hearing on Friday afternoon, Anderson’s attorney and the State Bar pressed the court to issue a decision on whether or not Anderson can escape a disciplinary hearing because his alleged misconduct occurred beyond the statute of limitations, reported the Texas Tribune.
Despite a court order and legal obligation to do so, Anderson withheld evidence pointing to the innocence of Morton, who was later exonerated by DNA evidence after serving 25 years for his wife’s murder.
According to Anderson’s lawyer Eric Nichols, the State Bar’s claim is invalid because it was filed more than 24 years after the original trial and because the evidence Anderson is said to have concealed has been held by public entities since 1989.
The State Bar’s attorney, Laura Bayouth Popps, argued that Anderson’s files on the Morton investigation were not public record and could not have been obtained by a public information request within the timeframe of the statute of limitations, reported the Tribune.
“By virtue of being the lead prosecutor, Mr. Anderson had a constitutional and ethical duty to disclose this,” Popps said. “This does not take hiding the evidence in the attic or putting it in the trunk. All we have to show is that he had a duty to disclose and he didn’t.”
Popps also argued that the statute of limitations does not apply, alleging that Anderson's efforts to conceal the evidence were ongoing, not a one-time offense.
“We would have liked to try this. We also would have liked for Mr. Morton not to have spent 25 years in prison,” Popps said. “Because of the fraud and concealment that took place here, no one was able to try this case any sooner.”
District Judge Kelly G. Moore said he will announce his decision by September 9. If the judge allows the State Bar to proceed, , the disciplinary action could proceed by the end of this month.
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