A day after prosecutors dismissed the capital murder charges that sent Anthony Graves to death row in 1994, they accused the district attorney who convicted him of prosecutorial misconduct.Siegler said this example of prosecutorial misconduct was “The worst I’ve ever seen.” Sadly, there's no apparent remedy available here. Clearly the State Bar Association is completely worthless when it comes to holding prosecutors accountable. Again from the Chron:
“Charles Sebesta handled this case in a way that could best be described as a criminal justice system’s nightmare,” Kelly Siegler declared. “It’s a travesty, what happened in Anthony Graves’ trial.” Graves, now 45, was released from jail Wednesday after spending 18 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, according to Bill Parham, the current DA for Washington and Burleson counties. Parham, Siegler and two investigators called a Thursday news conference at which they accused the former district attorney of hiding evidence and threatening witnesses.
In 2007, Houston attorney Robert Bennett filed a bar complaint saying Sebesta and two assistant district attorneys acted unethically in the prosecution.Thanks for nothing, State Bar. Way to uphold the integrity of the profession.
The State Bar dismissed the complaint, and officials said Sebesta has no disciplinary record.
Mark Bennett says that "Sebesta will go to his grave carrying the burden of the private knowledge that he’s lying, cheating filth who destroyed an innocent man’s life." That's not nearly sufficient.
To me, this case and others like it require a legislative remedy. The doctrine of absolute prosecutorial immunity is a construct created out of whole cloth by the US Supreme Court, and that means this corrupt and corrupting concept could be vitiated by legislative action. Police officers, after all, only have "qualified immunity"; why should prosecutors get no accountability at all for decisions made when they have time to deliberate when police officers - who often must make decisions on the spur of the moment - receive less protection under existing court precedents? It doesn't make sense and this case shows it's a recipe for injustice.
I'd like to see the Texas Legislature pass legislation next spring - with a bill named after Anthony Graves - to make prosecutors subject to qualified immunity by statute. That would still limit their liability drastically - just as it's incredibly difficult to hold police officers accountable for on-the-job misconduct under "qualified immunity" standards - but at least in extreme cases like this one there'd be some recourse against prosecutors who think it's okay to cheat to win.