Meaningful punishment…? Puh-lease!

(c) 2014 Brenda Grantland
reprinted from Truth and Justice Blog 11/17/2014

A fellow defense attorney sent me a Huffington Post article from November 8, 2014, For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man, by University of Cincinnati law professor Mark Godsey, a former prosecutor and editor of the Wrongful Convictions Blog.  It begins:

Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime’s only eyewitness that Morton wasn’t the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson’s career flourished, and he eventually became a judge.

In today’s deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. Anderson had already resigned in September from his position on the Texas bench….

I agree with Godsey’s statements that most prosecutors and police are ethical and try to comply with their responsibilities under the Constitution – if “most” means at least half.  But there is no way to know for sure. I have seen an inordinate number of dishonest, corrupt cops and prosecutors who withhold evidence, fabricate evidence, and lie in court, and bury their wrongdoing until a zealous adversary or reporter uncovers it.  It would be impossible to determine how common unethical prosecutors and police are because so few get exposed for their wrongdoing.

I also agree with Godsey’s statement that, when police and prosecutors get caught committing flagrant violations of ethics, law and their constitutional responsibilities, they almost always escape punishment of any kind for it.  Read his Huff Po article for some very troubling examples of corrupt prosecutors and cops being coddled and even rewarded.


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