The legal papers filed yesterday ask the court to vacate Mr. Cook’s no contest plea based on the fact that the new DNA evidence, viewed in light of the entire record, establishes that Mr. Cook is actually innocent of the crime, and because of the new evidence pointing to additional misconduct by Smith County officials.
In light of this evidence, the Innocence Project has filed a motion before Smith County District Judge Christi Kennedy asking that she recuse herself from the case because of her close relationships with several of the prosecutors and judges who are alleged to have committed misconduct against Mr. Cook over the course of 38 years, three capital murder trials, and in the legal proceedings surrounding Mr. Cook’s no contest plea. One of those officials, former elected Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen, led the prosecution team seeking Mr. Cook’s execution for more than 15 years; Skeen is now a judge on the same Smith County District Court as Judge Kennedy, which consists of only four judges. The motion notes that judges in Texas and nationally regularly recuse themselves or are ordered to be recused from such cases, given the inherent difficulty in fairly resolving allegations of a fellow judicial colleague’s misconduct.
The legal team representing Kerry Cook includes Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project; Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck; and Gary Udashen and Bruce Anton, Dallas attorneys appearing on behalf of the Innocence Project of Texas.
You can read more in a Texas Monthly article about the filing
and a Dallas Morning News Article