Thursday, October 6, 2011

Williamson County DA dragged kicking and screaming toward justice

John Bradley did his best to keep Michael Morton locked up behind bars. Even while presiding over the (emasculated) Texas Forensic Science Commission, the Williamson County District Attorney fought efforts by Mr. Morton's attorneys to conduct DNA testing on evidence introduced during in 1987 trial. Mr. Morton was charged with and convicted for the murder of his wife.

But it was all to no avail.

Mr. Morton is a free man once again, having been freed from the state penitentiary after Travis County prosecutors linked evidence found at the scene of the Morton murder with evidence found at another murder. That's right. Not Williamson County prosecutors. Prosecutors from down I-35.

There are also allegations that Williamson County prosecutors withheld evidence that might have exonerated Mr. Morton at trial. Apparently no one in the office thought they needed to turn over evidence that one of Ms. Morton's credit cards was used in San Antonio two days after her death or that someone cashed a check by forging her signature nine days after she was murdered.

Details. Details. Details. I mean, you can't possibly expect prosecutors to tie up every last loose end can you? We need to move these cases along. We need closure, dammit!

Bexar County Judge Sid Harle offered Mr. Morton his apologies after setting him free.
"You do have my sympathies," Harle said. "We don’t have a perfect system of justice, but we do have the best system in the world."
Unless you're behind bars for over two decades for a crime you didn't commit, I suppose.

Of course Mr. Bradley sought to deflect criticism for his role in keeping an innocent man behind bars. We all know that Mr. Bradley is very interested in seeing that justice is done. Just take a look at his record while turning the forensic science commission into a coffee klatch.

According to a story in the Texas Tribune, Mr. Bradley was wrapping himself in the flag and acting the part of the hero after Mr. Morton's release.
Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said that the new developments - which he said were a lightning bolt type of discovery - warranted a reversal of Morton's murder conviction. 
"It is my just, as district attorney, to make sure that justice is done," Bradley said after the court action today.
Well, I guess it's too late to worry about whether justice was served when Cameron Willingham was murdered by the state of Texas for a crime he didn't commit. After all, he was already dead, what good is justice when you're six feet under?

Mr. Bradley has some nerve to characterize the evidence the way he did after he fought tooth-and-nail for six years to prevent DNA testing. Where was his desire to see justice done then?

Tragedies such as Mr. Morton's are what happen when we worship at the altar of finality rather than justice.

Morton Findings

See also:

"Free! But damn! 25 years," Gamso for the Defense (Oct. 4, 2011)

"Belated justice in Williamson County for innocent man delayed for years by DA opposition to DNA testing," Grits for Breakfast (Oct. 3, 2011)

"Morton to be freed from prison today," Austin American-Statesman (Oct. 3, 2011)

"John Bradley called too biased to fairly evaluate DNA innocence claim," Grits for Breakfast (Aug. 17, 2011)

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