10 Days in Jail for Ex-Prosecutor Who Sent Innocent Man to Prison for 25 Years

Not everything's bigger in TexasCredit: Sam Howzit / Foter.com / CC BYJustice is served. A former Texas prosecutor accused of withholding important evidence in a murder trial, which resulted in an innocent man serving 25 years in prison, will go to jail. For 10 days. And he’ll pay a $500 fine and serve 500 hours of community service. The Associated Press reports:

A former Texas prosecutor who won a conviction that sent an innocent man to prison for nearly 25 years agreed Friday to serve 10 days in jail and complete 500 hours of community service.

Ken Anderson also agreed to be disbarred and was fined $500 as part of a sweeping deal that was expected to end all criminal and civil cases against the embattled ex-district attorney, who presided over a tough-on-crime Texas county for 30 years.

Anderson faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of tampering with evidence in the 1987 murder trial of Michael Morton, who wrongly spent nearly 25 years in prison.

Ten years becomes 10 days. Wonder if anybody who Anderson prosecuted or who appeared before Anderson when he became a judge got such a sweet deal.

Jacob Sullum wrote about the case and the details in 2011. Back then experts were skeptical there’d be any sort of punishment at all. They were close, but they didn’t think disbarment was likely, which means this lopsided punishment is still more severe than what people thought would happen.

(Hat tip to Reason commenter The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc)

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ten days is a life sentence in former prosecutor former judge time. Don't you know that?

  • Rich||

    Gives "Mandatory Minimum" a whole 'nother meaning.

  • Hugh Akston||

    To be fair, that is probably the harshest sentence ever handed down to a member of the ruling class. Do you realize that he might have to actually pay speeding tickets now?

    Hahahaha I'm just kidding. We all know one of his buddies will float him a high-paying consulting gig somewhere.

  • Aresen||

    I'm astonished that he even got 10 days.

    I would have been astonished by 10 seconds.

    There is no real distinction between Ken Anderson and Ariel Castro.

  • ||

    Well Ariel Castro didn't keep his victims that long nor did he claim to be incarcerating them in the name of the justice.

  • Pathogen||

    Let's not sugarcoat it... it was to prevent a lynching. Possibly, part of a discreet settlement with Morton.

  • Drake||

    If I served 25 years, it would postpone his death exactly 10 days.

  • Riesi||

    You want the government to decide who dies?

  • ||

    Jacob Sullum wrote about the case and the details in 2011. Back then experts were skeptical there’d be any sort of punishment at all. They were close, but they didn’t think disbarment was likely, which means this lopsided punishment is still more severe than what people thought would happen.

    Hopefully this starts a trend.

    (Hat tip to Reason commenter The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc)

    Hopefully this starts a trend.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    A better ass covering trend?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Long names cut short by Reason web site restrictions?

  • playa manhattan||

    Don't listen to this guy, he doesn't even have a credit card.

  • ||

    Prosecutors are probably worse than cops, because not only does the same kind of venal scum gravitate to both positions, prosecutors actually have far more discretion about if they want to screw someone.

  • Jquip||

    And no dash cams.

  • sarcasmic||

    John used to be a prosecutor.

    That's not a disagreement.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Piece of shit deserves to have a former client knock on his door one night...

    Joking?

  • playa manhattan||

    Theoretically, the "client" is the state, or collectively, "the people".

  • Square||

    Once you set aside the TV image of prosecutor as hero assisting in locking up the bad guys, you have a lawyer. Not just a lawyer, but one whose livelihood depends on successfully accusing people of crimes.

    No unhealthy incentives there.

  • Pathogen||

    "Prosecutors are probably worse than cops"

    Agreed.

    Their sole purpose and driving force is to convict everyone they see, ethics be dammed. Nothing, absolutely nothing can fuck up their conviction ratios.. or long term political aspirations predicated on those ratios...

  • Pro Libertate||

    JUSTICE.

  • Aresen||

    I assume you are snarking, praetor, because the only way that there could be justice here is if Michael Morton could somehow be magically given back the 25 years he lost.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Really, you have to ask? How long have we been commenting together?

  • Aresen||

    mea culpa

    Still friends?

    (except when discussing a certain former Starfleet Captain who shall not be named.)

  • SugarFree||

    Get a room.

  • Pro Libertate||

    With which captain do you want Aresen to get a room?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    I read "How long have we been coming together?".

  • SugarFree||

    The gay male couple's simultaneous orgasm is more commonly known as "The Double Meat Explosion."

  • Hugh Akston||

    What do they call it when it's a straight male couple?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Buddy cop pic.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I pardon you.

  • Riesi||

    No death. No peace.

  • RogerNorthup||

    If only we could know Mr. Anderson more personally so we could collectively shun him in his public life for, oh I dunno, 25 years.

  • Aresen||

    The kind of friends Ken Anderson would have are probably consoling him now on the 'raw deal' he received.

    Plus arranging for that consultancy that Hugh mentioned above.

    Also, this will be politely glossed over in the website promoting his services as a speaker.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, go down in scandal, profit. Real disincentive to bad behavior. Our culture is amazingly unconcerned with integrity and character, isn't it?

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Yep - keep "promoting" idiots like this in society by giving them money through tv shows and such is just another symptom of the disease that is - "congressional approval ratings 9%, incumbency rates 90%" or "60% say spend less, but when asked on what - 90% say don't cut any services specifically" or "US health care is a failure due to government and is failing worse with more government, so the solution has to be even more government" or....

  • John C. Randolph||

    Starving to death on the streets as a pariah would be a perfectly appropriate end for Anderson.

    -jcr

  • Zuul mothafucka Zuul||

    Eventually people are going to find out that there are two uses for a streetlight.

    P.S. Dear NSA,
    that was a joke

  • Aresen||

    Oh, look!

    A libertarian who thinks the government might have a sense of humor.

    Usually later referred to as a "deceased libertarian".

  • SugarFree||

    This sets a terrible precedent. How can people believe in the legitimacy of our courts if people get set free after being convicted? It will be anarchy in the streets. Better for this guy to rot in prison than let it be suggested our justice system isn't perfect.

    /Law and Order "Libertarian"

  • Pro Libertate||

    A lobertarian.

  • sarcasmic||

    I do believe that that is why cops and other members of government are routinely given a pass when they do terrible things.

    Government is based upon faith. Justice might shatter that faith. Then what?

  • SugarFree||

    Tulpa sez this very idea is why it's OK that we occasionally submit innocent people to the death penalty. They were convicted according to "the rules." Therefore, it is better for a few innocent people die rather than shake the foundation of the rules.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's all about process. As long as you lay out your utensils properly and make the eating motions in the correct manner, does it really matter if there's any food on the plate?

  • anarch||

    Ah. That is actually quite helpful.

    So it's a species of "affirming the consequent": A light sentence for a government official's apparently major infraction "proves" to the public that the infraction had actually been minor.

    Rhetorically reverse engineering.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Yes - this is why *all lawsuits against the state for unlawful convictions fail. Because allowing them to succeed would be tacit admission that the system is flawed.

    *some suits "win" by they are always against specific people who did specific things wrong, such as this prosecutor. *If* however you are just innocent and all the evidence against you is circumstantial and the case never should've gone to trail and then later you're set free because of DNA or whatever... no money.

    Though many states have setup funds to give money to wrongly convicted - that suit always fails. The only win is to prove someone withheld or lied or whatever.

    Because the process is sacred and can only be tarnished by bad apples.

  • Pathogen||

    "How can people believe in the legitimacy of our courts if people get set free after being convicted?"

    You're right, dammit.. these revolving door prison policies must stop! Starting with Mr. Anderson... throw away the key.

  • R C Dean||

    Ken Anderson also agreed to be disbarred

    (a) Good.

    (b) He was going to lose his license anyway, with a criminal conviction related to his practice.

    Shameful double standard on display here, of course, but at least its not quite as bad as the usual shameful double standard.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm appalled at how few attorneys get disciplined in any significant manner. I suppose it might have something to do with attorneys running the bar.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Professional Courtesy is a helluva drug.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know, I've long advocated the Censor for politicians, but maybe we also need anti-lawyers who just prey on lawyers. Excluding innocent in-house counsel, of course.

  • cw||

    Out of curiosity, PL, what kind of lawyer are you? I'm assuming from your comment you're a defense attorney for a company?

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, I'm in-house. Transactional, though I used to be regulatory.

  • cw||

    Interesting. Transactional is where I want to go. Litigation just seems hellish.

  • Pro Libertate||

    And it warps your mind.

  • cw||

    You know, given the accelerating growth of government, why wouldn't demand for lawyers keep increasing?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Funny you should mention that, because most of the people who write and pass new laws are attorneys. What an amazing coincidence!

  • Pro Libertate||

    As far as scams goes, it's a good one.

  • cw||

    Absolutely.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think it is for regulatory jobs, but that doesn't necessarily affect litigation and other areas as much. Frankly, I think we had a lawyer bubble that went way past what the country could support, but, by the same token, a lot of older attorneys have been hanging on due to uncertainties about the economy and the value of their retirement. That can't last forever.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Soylent Green?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Soylent Greed.

  • Ted S.||

    Single-payer law.

    Because no lawyer does anything worth more than minimum wage.

  • R C Dean||

    In-house attorneys are pretty much the royalty of lawyers.

    I'm going to be hiring a new lawyer (don't even think about applying, any of you). I think I'll take the opportunity to create a new career path/job titles.

    I, naturally, am the General Counsel. My immediate deputy will be the Colonel Counsel. Others will be Major Counsel, Captain Counsel, etc., all the way down to Minion Counsel for junior attorneys.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Just so you know, GC is passé. Now the vogue is Chief Legal Officer.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    What, not Private Counsel?

  • cw||

    Yes, seeing a lawyer get, well, some kind of punishment for wrongdoing is pretty refreshing.

    And I say that as someone who's becoming one.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Good luck--the market is scary for new lawyers.

  • cw||

    Thanks. Apparently it's not too bad here in Montana, at least concerning property transactions, so I'm not too worried.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They have some funky property law out there, right? Like with water rights especially.

  • cw||

    Yes, we have a whole water court devoted to the very issue.

    I wish I could tell you more, but I have not had a chance to take any property classes yet, being a 1L and all.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We had Property first year--both semesters. I actually liked it for some reason, not that I've made much professional use of it (even though I sometimes negotiate leases).

  • cw||

    Interesting. We don't have property until second year, but we do have contracts for both semesters this year. And I find contracts very interesting.

    Do you use Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg on a regular basis?

  • Pro Libertate||

    None of the above. Did use Westlaw back when I did regulatory work, but you don't do as much research in transactional.

  • cw||

    Really? Well, I guess that makes sense; I can't see a transactional lawyer having to constantly search cases. But don't you have to check the constant updates to the C.F.R.? (at least when you did regulatory work)?

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's been a while, but we had secondary subscription services that tracked all of that.

  • cw||

    Whoops, my bad. You answered my question (I think I need to go home).

  • Lord at War||

    Yes, we have a whole water court devoted to the very issue.

    I wish I could tell you more, but I have not had a chance to take any property classes yet, being a 1L and all.

    Get off my lawn pond!

  • Pathogen||

    What difference, at this point, does it make?...

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Piece of shit should get hit by a car at the side of the road, and not killed but instead fucked up badly enough to wish he was dead.

  • Pathogen||

    +1 colostomy bag, forever....

  • creech||

    "other members of government are routinely given a pass when they do terrible things."

    No, some are given the "Freedom Medal" by Jeb Bush and the National Constitution Center. Others, upon leaving office where they screwed us for years are given fat pensions and an unending string of $100,000 speaking engagements.

  • CatoTheElder||

    The really, really crappy prosecutors get to become Attorney General of the US.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J.....e_Attorney

  • Alice Bowie||

    Surprise???

    A Prosecutor is effectively a COP.
    They all stick together.

  • Paul.||

    former Texas prosecutor who won a conviction that sent an innocent man to prison for nearly 25 years agreed Friday to serve 10 days in jail and complete 500 hours of community service.

    Contrast with:

    Anderson faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of tampering with evidence in the 1987 murder trial of Michael Morton, who wrongly spent nearly 25 years in prison.

    Judge: You're sentenced to 10 years in prison. *gavel crack*

    Anderson: No can do.

    Judge: Five years and an apology?

    Anderson: Not gonna happen.

    Judge: *confers with clerk* Ok, how about two years and a letter to the victim?

    Anderson: How about... you kiss my ass, and I go get my 5:30 Martini which is probably getting stale on the bar...

    Judge: *sighs, takes off glasses* Look, Mr. Anderson, no one respects you more than I, but this has become political! People are watching! And I'm up for election next year. You gotta give me something.

    Anderson: *confers with lawyer* Aight... how about... 500 hours of community service that counts as time I spend with my wife on her non-profit.

    Judge: *confers with clerk* Gotta have some jail time. Throw me a frickin' bone here, Mr. Anderson.

    Anderson: *confers with lawyer-- turns to talk to judge-- lawyer pulls anderson back for a second confab while anderson holds up finger in 'wait' sign to the judge* Ok, 500 hours community service, 10 days in jail.

    Judge: *looking relieved* Sold! Say 'hi' to Judy for me.

    *gavel crack*

  • AdamJ||

    And I get to keep my state benefits.

  • JidaKida||

    OK wow thats like the craziest thing I have heard all day!

    www.Privacy-Road.tk

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If which god forbid, morton kills the prosecutor, maybe his sentence should be 25 yers with credit for time served on the earlier charge.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I actually should not have made such a tasteless joke. Im sorry. I should have said the prosecutor should have gotten 25 years. Vigilantism shouldnt be a joking matter.

  • Dweebston||

    A just world would see this man hanged, publicly, from a scaffold, by an executioner, with a physician at hand to verify the death.

    Prosecutors are men entrusted with an element of sovereignty in pursuing justice for the aggrieved, and this man abused the privilege afforded him by society. Trials involve a strong degree of faith in those prosecuting and adjudicating them; prosecutors and judges who compromise that trust should have the full weight of historical jurisprudence brought down on their heads.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Right, he should have gotten a much stiffer sentence. My joke was about vigilantism, which I'm actually against. And it wasn't funny anyway, so I shouldn't have said it.

  • Paul.||

    If which god forbid willing, morton kills the prosecutor

    Fixed.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    See my apology above.

  • Paul.||

    I understand. I hesitated when I wrote my response (unfortunately without hitting reply). I await my SWAT raid and subsequent death from a furtive movement. I don't own any dogs.

  • Paul.||

    You can read the original column here (pdf), Guns & Ammo’s apology here, and Dick Metcalf’s response here. It appeals to the First Amendment, of course.

    Mr. Metcalf, your right to say and think what you say and think is absolute. You don't have to go home, you just can't stay here.

  • Paul.||

    Gah! Wrong thread. Damned Demon Rum!

  • optimusratiostultum||

    This sort of thing happens way more than people realize. Cops are regular people but since they are always portrayed as heroes no one is allowed to question their motives.

  • Galane||

    An older friend of mine, now in his 50's, was sent to prison for 10 years for a crime that never happened.

    His accusers lied, and admitted they lied. But the State would not allow their confession in court.

    So he spent a decade in prison, hounded daily to admit his "guilt" with promises of being let out if he did.

    So now he has to register with the State whenever he moves, can't own a gun or even so little as a pocket knife and can't vote.

    No lawyer will take his case, which should be a slam dunk win, because they don't want to defend a "sex offender" even when there was no crime - or they want a big wad of cash up front.

  • Riesi||

    Test

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