Tuesday, January 03, 2012

As predicted: State bar dismisses grievance against John Bradley from Morton case

Grits is shocked, shocked I tell you that the state bar announced it has dismissed the ethics complaint filed against Williamson County DA John Bradley stemming from alleged prosecutorial misconduct in Michael Morton's false conviction, a development the Austin Statesman reported today. Except ... oh yeah ... Grits predicted earlier the state bar "almost certainly" wouldn't do anything. As pointed out then, "The State Bar didn't even discipline a [former] DA or judge from Collin County after the prosecutor admitted in a deposition they'd been sleeping together during a capital murder trial." If that won't get a prosecutor sanctioned, how could one expect action stemming from the Michael Morton exoneration?

I'm not a lawyer, but to me Bradley calling in all the prosecutors involved for a meeting to review evidence before their depositions (unbeknownst at the time to Morton's attorneys) struck me as straight up evidence tampering, giving the alleged perpetrators an opportunity to get on the same page and get their story straight while muddying independent recollections. The state bar, though, apparently said that was okay by them.

Granted, the complaint against Judge Ken Anderson may be stronger on the merits, if potentially hindered by a statute of limitations, but Bradley's politically convenient, belated, and half-hearted mea culpa doesn't mitigate the fact that he fought for years to keep Judge Anderson's misconduct from being exposed, mocking Mr. Morton's innocence claims while obstructing every possible avenue for proving them. If that wasn't technically unethical according to state bar rules, it certainly was heartless and fundamentally antithetical to the prosecutor's oath to seek justice, not convictions.

Examples like this have convinced your correspondent that the Legislature must find some way to beef up sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct and/or implement preventive procedures, e.g., mandating open prosecution files. The courts won't do it, and it's wholly evident the legal profession is incapable of policing itself on questions of prosecutorial misconduct.

See related Grits posts:
 And more generally on the subject of prosecutorial misconduct:
See also the report (pdf) by Morton's attorneys on proseuctorial misconduct in the case and a deposition (pdf) of Bradley former appellate chief who worked on the Morton case, current Williamson County Court at Law Judge Doug Arnold.

MORE: From Simple Justice where, reacting to this case, Scott Greenfield accused the Texas state bar and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of "horseradish vision."


Anonymous said...

You anguished cries are unceasing. When will there be justice!

Anonymous said...


This type of response is why I do not do criminal defense work. I refuse to participate in the Texas criminal injustice system, which is what it is.

Recent cases in Waco. Guy has sex four times with 16 year old girl who comes to his house to have sex with him. Does not accept plea bargain and after trial gets sentence reduced to 40 years after agreeing to waive appeal rights. Another guy has sex with 13 year old, gets plea deal for deferred adjudication probation. Same jurisdiction. Makes no sense at all.

Anonymous said...

Attorneys do not go after other attorneys. Period.

Tom said...

As I recall, the statute of limitations on bar complaints is four years. That's long past. There may be nothing the bar can do to them.
And, the civil statutes of limitations also probably are gone too.
The voters will have to dowhat they think is appropriate.

Daniel Simon said...


I filed a grievance also...and have not been able to get any publicity.

It revolves around John Bradley's refusal to prosecute a certain felony in Williamson County, AND his willful interference with police doing even the most token of enforcement of this felony.

Per John Bradley's "policy" LEOs in Wilco show up when called and proceed to lie to the victims and perpetrators stating; "this is not a crime...it is civil and I recommend you hire an attorney and go back to court".

This inaction by John Bradley makes him an accessory under Texas law and makes him guilty of each and every one of these hundreds of felonies!

I am saddened that no one seems interested in this story...a story that would result in Bradley being ridden out of the county on a rail if those affected understood the truth.

See: "we don't enforce THAT felony" page on my website.

Daniel Simon

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Tom, that's true, but when evidence of misconduct was actively concealed, it's arguable, I've been told, that the SOL for the state bar may start tolling when the secret misconduct was discovered, not when it occurred. Again, IANAL and know little about the state bar disciplinary process, but that's my impression from a couple of extended email discussions with others who do. Ditto for the Commission on Judicial Conduct in Judge Anderson's case.

Jefe said...

Irony alert. TBLS today gave board certification to Bradley in Criminal Appellate Law.

Anonymous said...

Well, a whole bunch of people just got certified by the TBLS:


Some of the brightest and best, and some of the sorriest excuses for lawyers you'll ever see.

It's not as thought the TBLS picked out Bradley - a bunch of people applied in this, the first year that the board has offered certification in criminal appellate law specifically.

dfisher said...

Though John Bradley may have escaped this State Bar complaint, he has his own Michael Morton cases that are working their way into the press and are better documented.

To digress for a moment, Chris Morton's autopsy report and Bayardo'd testimony at trial were not legal under TX Inquest Statute and Constitution.

Numerous TX Attorney General opinions and case law forbid a county medical examiner from performing an autopsy on people who died in other counties. Additional AG Opinions forbid JP's from sending bodies to other counties for autopsies.

Now I know several judges have recently ruled against motions filed to suppress these illegally ordered and performed autopsies, but some of these motions have been refiled with better legal foundation, and are set to be heard this month.

The Comedian said...

How can you tell when a liar, I mean lawyer, is lying? His lips... (you know the rest).

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney John T. Floyd said...

Great work on the coverage of this case. Your readers may find our perspective interesting:http://www.johntfloyd.com/blog/2011/12/28/wrongful-conviction-and-prosecutorial-misconduct/#more-699

Anonymous said...

State Bar of Texas brochure entitled "Attorney Complaint Information" states:
Is there a statute of limitations on filing a grievance?
Yes. With a few exceptions,there is a four-year statute of limitations on filing a grievance.

Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure as applicable to grievances filed on or after 1/1/2004, states the statute of limitations on filing a grievance, as follows:

15.06 Limitations, Rules and Exceptions: No attorney licensed to practice law in Texas may be disciplined for Professional Misconduct occurring more than four years before the time when the allegation of Professional Misconduct is brought to the attention of the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, except in cases in which disbarment or suspension is compulsory. Limitations will not begin to run where fraud or concealment is involved until such Professional Misconduct is discovered or should have been discovered in the exercise of reasonable diligence by the Complainant.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Attorneys do not go after other attorneys. Period.

Actually, some lawyers specialize in Legal Malpractice and Lawyer Discipline. Unfortunately, the harmed client may end up with a local lawyer who only makes a token effort to help him get justice, and the client ends up being cheated twice, once by each lawyer he hired.

Fortunately, the way to avoid this dilemma of local incestuous relations among the lawyers and judges in the same county is to hire a lawyer who specializes in Legal Malpractice who is far from the county in Texas where the malpractice lawsuit will be filed.
As a practical matter, this means searching for a lawyer who specializes in Legal Malpractice in one or more of four large cities: Austin, Dallas, Houston or San Antonio, except for one of these cities that might be where the lawsuit will be filed.

In each of these cities, there is a "go to" lawyer who specializes in suing other lawyers, but such lawyers are usually overloaded with pending cases and or only accept new cases for very high-dollar stakes, and in effect they are not available.

Any credible lawsuit that can be filed against a lawyer is a public service.