Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Bradley, Anderson engaged in 'heated' discussion following Michael Morton DNA exoneration

"On the day that the Texas Third Court of Criminal Appeals declared Michael Morton innocent," we learn at Wilco Watchdog, Williamson County "District Attorney John Bradley and Judge Ken Anderson (the first-chair prosecutor in the Michael Morton murder case) had a heated 'discussion' that could be heard through the walls of Anderson's office."

These and other enlightening details were revealed in the deposition of Mike Davis (pdf), second-chair at Michael Morton's false conviction 25 years ago, has been made public. Initial accounts sound like he threw his old boss Ken Anderson, now a Williamson County District Judge, under the bus. Again from the Watchdog, "Davis said he was 'shocked' that Anderson fought to keep from Morton's lawyers the statements made by Morton to investigators and that Anderson did NOT have an 'open file policy' involving case records." Here's an excerpt from the Texas Tribune's initial coverage filling in a little more detail:
Davis, who left the district attorney's office just days after the Morton case ended, said Anderson had a close working relationship with then-Sheriff Jim Boutwell. And he said Anderson prided himself on knowing all the details of cases that he tried, describing him as "a control guy" when it came to his investigations.
The transcript and other information, Davis said, should have been turned over to the judge and to Morton's attorneys. When he learned about the DNA evidence that exonerated Morton, Davis said he went to Anderson's office and confronted him about whether he had concealed the transcript outlining details of the attack young Eric Morton witnessed. "And he says, 'We turned it over,'" Davis said.
Davis also described a scene that unfolded in the Williamson County courthouse on the day that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals exonerated Morton. Davis was in Anderson's courtroom, and he said current District Attorney John Bradley arrived and insisted on a meeting with Davis and Anderson in a back room. Anderson wanted to meet with Bradley alone, Davis said, and the two went into a separate room. "And Judge Anderson and Mr. Bradley had a discussion which was pretty loud," Davis said. "I could hear raised voices, but I couldn't tell what they were saying."
Davis contended he had no knowledge that anything was withheld from Morton's lawyers, and that he was disturbed to learn that information was allegedly supressed. "It troubles me greatly," Davis said.
Skimming the deposition (pdf), it looks like Davis put everything on Anderson, saying all murder prosecutions were his "baby," that decisions about what to disclose to the defense were totally Anderson's, describing him as a "control guy." Davis added that he was "surprised" by some of the things Anderson fought to prevent releasing, including the defendants own statements.  When Morton's attorney, Gerry Goldstein, ran through the list of withheld evidence later discovered in various sheriff and prosecutor files, Davis said in every case he believed it should have been turned over to the defense. The Williamson County Sun coverage quotes Davis as saying, " Mr. Anderson and I are not friends."

Add to this news the fact that Bradley later met with Judge Anderson, Davis' attorney and the amnemonic lead investigator in the case Don Wood to go over the evidence in detail prior to their depositions, and we're starting to get a more complete picture of the behind the scenes tensions playing out among these long-time political and professional allies as a result of Michael Morton's exoneration. I'm looking forward to reading Ken Anderson's deposition next week; unless he exhibits from the same amnesiac affliction suffered by Sgt. Wood, it promises to be a doozy.

MORE: From the Austin Statesman, the Texas Tribune, the Wilco Watchdog, and the Williamson County Sun.

UPDATE: The suspect in Christine Morton's murder identified through DNA has been publicly identified.

See prior, related Grits posts:

10 comments:

Project Editor said...

The argument between Anderson and Bradley is significant for many reasons. Was Anderson upset because Bradley told him he couldn't cover for him anymore, and that after the declaration of Morton's innocence (which Bradley had signed), there would be an investigation of the investigation? Did Anderson expect Bradley to continue trying to withhold release of evidence, as Bradley had done for the last several years?

Anonymous said...

One has to wonder if this is par for the course for the Texas justice system? How many other innocents are languishing in prison?

Anonymous said...

If one goes down, they all go down. wa wa wa, stand up take it.

Anonymous said...

As I have visited prisoners and heard some of their stories I continue to be amazed that there are INNOCENT people in cells. No, they do not ALL say they are innocent, most readily admit they are where they should be. Usually the ones I talk with are in prison because of a judicial problem. Judge or attorney being determined to "find them guilty".

Anonymous said...

John Bradley should resign and so should Anderson. Rumors are circulating in georgetown about a possible republican candidate for DA seriously considering a run. If they are true, she will beat the snot out of Bradley. Guess we will see.

Anonymous said...

An arrest has been made. 57 year old Bastrop county man named Mark Alan Norwood.

His accessories in the Baker murder remain at large....

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the sleazy anderson-bradley good buddies of Williamson county are verifiably responsible for 2 more children losing their mother to death by a monster. I hope those nice people down there get this fixed, it’s such a beautiful place to spend money but why would anyone want to go there with these guys running things.

Anonymous said...

A young woman committed suicide because Bradley didn't move to punish her abusers. I'm going to wager that once the news media gets involved and finds out the details, her abusers will be well-heeled, and/or politically connected.

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Tweets-before-suicide-point-to-teen-s-sexual-abuse-2261520.php

Phillip Baker said...

My family reads every new piece obsessively, as you can imagine. My take from the Wilco Watchdog coverage of Davis' deposition is that these three (We call them B.A.D., for Bradley, Anderson, and Davis) are turning on each other and trying to save their own skins.

If the State Bar fails to revoke the license of Anderson, at the least, then shame on them. The stench of corruption from Wilco cries out for sunlight.

10:57, go back a few weeks and read the Grits posting about wrongfully convicted men in our prisons. What I will be pushing for is that both counties actively search for similar murders after 1988, both cold case and those with convictions. It's not likely Norwood and his possible accomplice just stopped killing and joined a church. We need to make sure there are no other Mortons in prison! And we need to find a way to hold accountable those who framed Michael. State Bar, are you listening???

Anonymous said...

Why did Davis leave the DA's office so soon after the Morton case ended? WTF is up with that? Did Anderson can him? You don't second chair the DA himself on a high profile case and then just up and leave after ya win...