Friday, December 6, 2013

Criminal (in)Justice System At Work

Perhaps you've heard that Michael Morton was freed after almost twenty-five years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Good news, that.

But the other side of the story is ugly.  After intentionally withholding physical evidence and witness statements that would have shown the prosecutor's alligator tears (yes, he cried while imploring the jury to convict) begged for the conviction of the totally wrong man – one the suppressed eyewitness confirmed wasn't present – it appears the state's attorney was apparently so busy doing similar work with so many other cases in order to keep his prosecution rate up that he was unable to recall any details of the Morton case. Because, you know, they were like every other case in which he needed a conviction.  The state's lawyer, Ken Anderson, went on to become a judge.  Because the purpose of the machine is to get convictions, and success is rewarded with advancement.

Never mind that the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct expressly bar the behavior brought to light by attorneys working for free or with charitable funding to undo the evil committed by the state with the public's tax revenue. Never mind that prosecutorial irregularities are, in fact, regular.  I suppose it's nice that Ken Anderson lost his law license over this, but how many lives did he wreck before he was caught? Certainly the next murdered woman – whose killer wasn't being sought because Ken claimed he had the right man when it was obvious from the witness testimony and concealed physical evidence that he didn't – would claim her life was affected.  But what about all the other bogus convictions, the plea deals forced on people too terrified to risk their fates to a system bent on consuming their freedoms, the fortunes in defense costs required by bogus prosecutions?

And what about real crimes the district attorney's can't be bothered to prosecute – embezzlements by business partners, white-collar crimes that affect whole communities, and other less-than-first-degree crimes – what happens when they go unattended because all available resources are expended shooting fish in a barrel using tainted prosecutions to destroy lives that aren't protected by unlimited defense budgets?

The system needs serious work.

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