Caption: Michael Morton at a court hearing in October with his Innocence Project attorney Nina Morrison.
An editorial in today’s New York Times calls for further inquiry into allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the Texas case of Michael Morton who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife 25 years ago and exonerated through DNA testing earlier this month. The Innocence Project and partnering attorneys discovered, through a Public Records Act request and subsequent litigation, that prosecutors had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense at trial and also attempted to block Morton’s requests for post-conviction DNA testing to prove his innocence. Arguing that prosecutors are very rarely disciplined, the Times points to the Morton inquiry as a valuable opportunity to send a message that prosecutors can be subject to criminal sanctions for misconduct.
Mr. Morton’s lawyers have asked that the judge recommend a “court of inquiry” to investigate whether Mr. Anderson violated the law and should be charged in a criminal proceeding. While this process is an urgent matter for Mr. Morton, it is also a test of American justice — whether a prosecutor who flouts his duty under the Constitution to disclose crucial evidence to a defendant is subject to any meaningful sanction.