Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kerry Max Cook: 'Rogue' DAs don't deserve 'Prosecutor of the Year' honors

Kerry Max Cook, who is seeking post-conviction DNA testing to formally, finally exonerate him of a 1978 murder for which he was sent to death row three separate times, asked Grits to post this brief essay:
“ …It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys, including any special prosecutors, not to convict, but to see that justice is done.  They shall not suppress facts or secrete witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused.” (Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 2.01)

There is definitely something broken - - and broken badly - - when the Texas County and District Attorney Association section of the State Bar of Texas awards and sanctions rogue prosecutors by unabashedly nominating them "Prosecutors of the Year."
My name is Kerry Max Cook. I am the author of a memoir called CHASING JUSTICE:  My story of freeing myself after two decades on death row for a crime I didn’t commit. [Ed note: See a review.]
What do Williamson County’s Ken Anderson and Smith County’s Jack Skeen share in common? Both were awarded "Prosecutor of the Year" by the County and District Attorneys section of the Texas State Bar.  And both were later appointed to District Judgeships by Gov. Rick Perry.

When a Tyler Judge in Smith County moved my case to Williamson County in 1992 for the first of what would become a series of retrials in the ‘90’s, then-District Attorney Jack Skeen sent me back to death row a second time. In fact, of all the things you can say Jack Skeen and Ken Anderson have in common, the one thing they don't is that Jack Skeen is not facing a Court of Inquiry and Ken Anderson is.

If anyone really sat down and took the time to wade through all the documented Jack Skeen and David Dobbs misconduct in my case, I think you would be shocked at how bad it really was. It would make the machinations of John Bradley look like Cinderella.  But that won't happen. You see, in Texas we have what I like to call Sak's Fifth Avenue justice for the Ken Andersons and Jack Skeens, and Wal-Mart justice for the Michael Mortons and Kerry Cooks.

Take my case for example. Here you have one of our largest newspapers in Texas, the Dallas Morning News, from 1980 until 1992 writing an award-winning series of investigative stories on my persecution that began with "Inmate was Railroaded, Testimony in Cook case called mostly false," "Convicted Man Called Innocent," "Key Evidence in Cook Case Suppressed," "Wrong Man on Death row," "Psychologist Views on Inmate Disputed," "Conclusions Wrong, Experts Say," "Police Didn't Pursue Leads in '77 Killing: Tyler Inquiry called Sloppy," and many more. These headlines were published across the state of Texas.

The man responsible  who caused those torrid headlines to be written was 1977-78 Smith County district attorney A.D. Clark, III.

Fourteen years later, Jack Skeen (A.D. Clark, III’s first-cousin) used the exact same "fraudulent” case A.D. Clark, III first built to convict me and then pushed it until he got a second conviction and death sentence at a third trial in 1994 with a Williamson County jury.

These Dallas Morning News investigative headlines had already splashed across Texas long before Jack Skeen received his “Prosecutor of the Year” award in 1997. In addition, by this time, Jack Skeen had already sent me back to death row once more and was on his way to do it again in a fourth trial after the conviction he obtained in my third trial with the use of the very same "fraudulent evidence” (See Tex. Ct. Crim. Apps. Nov. 6th. 1996 Opinion). The County and District Attorney's Association knew all of this when they nominated Jack Skeen “Prosecutor of the Year” in 1997.

Maybe  one day the spirit of the words found in Article 2.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure can have meaning in Texas. Today, they don't. After what I have gone through in Smith County, I'm not sure they ever did.
RELATED: See Cook's motion to recuse and disqualify (pdf) Judge Jack Skeen in future proceedings in his case. Here's a good summary from Texas Monthly's Michael Hall on Cook's efforts to seek exoneration, and recent commentary from former Dallas News reporter David Hanners, mentioned above, who believes Cook is actually innocent.. Finally, here's an oldie but a goodie, this Houston Chronicle story from 2000 alleging prosecutorial misconduct in Smith County, using Cook's case as a prime example. (Then Smith County DA Jack Skeen sued the paper for libel over the story and lost.) Also, in addition to Judges Anderson and Skeen, it's worth mentioning that Williamson County DA John Bradley is also a past "Prosecutor of the Year" recipient.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but is anyone else having as much trouble getting through your verification process as I have? Despite typing the correct characters, I repeatedly get kicked out several times before getting through. Recently I have given up completely several times after making 4-5 attempts.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Sorry 'bout that. I've heard complaints from others but I've not had similar problems. Problem is, I get SOOOOO much comment spam there has to be some sort of verification.

Gadfly said...

Scott, also off topic ... but ... with you "plugged in" enough ... I know the Texas Workforce Commission officially does not handle complaints against management. What recourse to I have short of a lawyer, first, and second, if I need a lawyer, can you recommend any? Or, another job to get me out of journalism? I'm currently in the Hill Country. Outside email is socraticgadfly AT hotmail DOT com.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

sorry sg, I don't do either lawyer or employment referrals, and have little knowledge of the TWC. best,

GalvestonLawyer said...

Shows you just how much the TDCAA values justice, eh? Jack Skeen is a bastard. There--I said it--I was always cautioned not to badmouth a sitting judge--but that is the truth. Just ask the folks in the Mineola case. I have tried cases in his court and I know first-hand just what a 'Champion of Justice' that sonofabitch is. He is not fit to be a lawyer or judge in Texas.

Anonymous said...

The Texas Penal Code does not contain "articles." The quote about prosecuting attorneys is taken from Article 2.01, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which does not contain a preamble and reads as follows:

Art. 2.01. DUTIES OF DISTRICT ATTORNEYS. Each district attorney shall represent the State in all criminal cases in the district courts of his district and in appeals therefrom, except in cases where he has been, before his election, employed adversely. When any criminal proceeding is had before an examining court in his district or before a judge upon habeas corpus, and he is notified of the same, and is at the time within his district, he shall represent the State therein, unless prevented by other official duties. It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys, including any special prosecutors, not to convict, but to see that justice is done. They shall not suppress facts or secrete witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused.

Chasing Justice said...

"It shall be the primary duty of all prosecuting attorneys, including any special prosecutors, not to convict, but to see that justice is done. They shall not suppress facts or secrete witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused." That was the gist of my point. Is the correct way simply using the citation of 2.01?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Kerry, he's saying the section you mentioned is in the Code of Criminal Procedure, not the Penal Code, which is true. You correctly interpreted the duties, just mis-cited it. My bad for not catching it, and thanks to 12:39 for the correction. I edited the offending statement in the post.

Hook Em Horns said...

Jack Skeen is a bastard. He is the personification of Texas injustice. Just like GalvestonLawyer, I was also advised to not bad mouth a sitting judge but Jack has no business on the bench or practicing law.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Galveston Lawyer and Hook em. We need to demand a court of inquiry on this. It may be too late to prosecute Skeen but he at least needs to be exposed for the scum that he is.

Chasing Justice said...

(addressing"Anonymous" post) In the Innocence Report on Ken Anderson, it was argued that the statute of limitation did not bar a Court of Inquiry. Apparently, Judge Harle and Justice Jefferson were persuaded of that position.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Mr. Cook, allow us to echo your feelings that indeed - "Rogue DAs don't deserve 'Prosecutor of the Year' honors". IMHO, for that matter, it should exclude them from CPR considerations.

PNG is combating this vett-less form of goofy insider, awardsmanship by looking for nominations for – Texas' Worst DA & ADA of the Year, Decade & Century'. Thank you Grits for allowing & thank you Mr. Cook for sharing.

Atticus said...

Shades of "Lawman of the Year" Tom Coleman...

Anonymous said...

Check the Texas Employment Lawyers Association (TELA) website for info and attorney information.

Chasing Justice said...

Read this factual Motion for Smith County Recusal on hearing my declaration of Innocence campaign, drawn up and sworn to under penalty of perjury. Jack Skeen, David Dobbs, A.D. Clark, III (Jack Skeen's first-cousin), if they don't qualify as worst Texas DA's in the history of Texas, I'll eat my grits.

http://205.196.121.73/9bl1991pf1tg/5semh07l2gfcdix/Motion+to+Recuse+and+Disqualify+Judge+Jack+Skeen.pdf

Chasing Justice said...

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..."

- U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982)

Anonymous said...

Kerry, I'm glad to see you're not 'down for the count' and still have your fists in the air.
The comments made by David Dobbs on KLTV recently that he felt your were guilty even now made me feel sick. Even given the opportunity to right their wrongs, Smith county still feels the need to cover up their lies. It will catch them in the end.
Amy
aj.dunn@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I actually have been in Jack Skeen court seeing him fall asleep in a capital murder trial. To him its "guilty until proving "guilty.. Its actually alot of crooked stuff goin on in Smith County. Somebody need to expose this maddness.