"It's a good day," Morton, who was present in the courtroom, told media after the hearing. "When it began, when I was asked what I wanted, I said, 'The only thing that I want as a baseline is for Ken Anderson to be off the bench and for him to no longer practice law,' and both of those things have happened and more."Mark Godsey at The Huffington Post says this is the first time ever a prosecutor has gone to jail for withholding evidence. Wrote Godsey, "What's newsworthy and novel about today's plea is that a prosecutor was for his transgressions."
According to Innocent Project attorney Barry Scheck, the "more" will be an independent audit into every case prosecuted by Anderson as well as former Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley.
Scheck told media he hopes the entire process will send a message, while expressing continued frustration with Anderson.
"To this very day he still wants to somehow say, 'The system went wrong. I did nothing wrong,'" said Scheck. "That is not an example for anybody, and it is frankly disgraceful."
A prosecutor going to jail for Brady violations may be a first, but compared to what Morton faced, it's hard to say with a straight face that Anderson was "actually punished in a meaningful way." Losing his bar license is surely a bigger deal than ten days in jail. And at his age, with his judicial pension intact, losing his license wasn't as harsh a punishment as the national media disapprobation he's endured. As justice goes, this outcome represents relatively weak tea compared to the monstrous injustice Michael Morton endured at Anderson's hands.
That said, legislation passed this year bearing Morton's name requires Texas prosecutors going forward to open up their files to defense counsel, a measure that probably would have prevented Morton from ever being convicted if it were in place back in 1986. That new law will produce greater justice than Ken Anderson will ever face. In essence, Michael Morton sacrificed most of his adult life to secure that pivotal reform. When he looks back on this misbegotten episode, that will be the most important part of his legacy, while Ken Anderson's tepid punishment will amount to a footnote.