“ …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.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.
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.