Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Williamson County getting off light financially for Michael Morton exoneration

The aftermath of the Michael Morton exoneration has cost Williamson County more than half a million dollars, reported the Austin Statesman (July 22), mostly in legal fees surrounding the court of inquiry but also for the prosecution of the real killer, Mark Norwood, whose DNA was found at the scene on a belatedly tested bloody handkerchief. Reported the paper:
[Rusty] Hardin submitted a bill of $365,045.13, which included $39,587.63 for expenses such as Fed Ex, copying, mileage and hotels, [assistant auditor Julie] Kiley said. The remainder of the bill was for 1553.50 hours of legal service, she said. Sturns only authorized that the county pay $339,492, she said.

Kiley said the judge didn’t explain why he adjusted the bill down, but such adjustments aren’t unusual in criminal cases. ...

The county’s previous legal costs of more than $158,000 include $145,879.84 for the Norwood trial and $12,780 for judge’s fees, transcripts and court reporting for the court of inquiry, Kiley said.
Considering the state paid nearly two million dollars to Morton in a lump sum and that Texas taxpayers created a lifetime annuity for Morton in a like amount, quite honestly, it seems to me the county is getting off light. One of Morton's unrequited reform suggestions was for counties to bear at least part of the burden for compensating exonerees since local officials were fundamentally responsible for most false convictions. That idea didn't move forward, but it would be folly to think the county would get off scot-free while Judge Ken Anderson, who prosecuted Morton and was arrested this spring for allegedly secreting exculpatory evidence in the case, remains on the bench. For that matter, "If a trial is held, the county will face more expenses."


An Attorney said...

The only way to reduce the tendency of the PDs, Sheriffs, and DAs to overcharge, etc., and to fairly allocate the costs of those acts to those with the power to avoid those mistakes: Make the local jurisdiction (county) pay the freight -- prison cost, etc., as well as payments to the falsely convicted. Phase it in over several years. Then spend the state money on rehabilitation and preparing the convicts to live outside crime free.

Anonymous said...

While anyone can assume the identity of an "Attorney" and comment til the cows come home, the one just above seems to have agreed with Grits and proposed what quite a few of us have said for years.

Sadly, since there isn't a name to go along with it, it is just another solution thrown up on the wall in hopes it'll stick. We've been saying for years that the individual counties, DAs and their ADAs must be held responsible for their actions.

The problem is that we have been saying it in comment sections and blogs vs. to the politician’s faces, during voir dire and at the polls. We have to vote out the status quo folks and replace them with folks on a 90 Day probation period and re-evaluated every 6 months.

The criminal(s) must be held accountable for their actions. If you knowingly & willingly arrest someone and the Detectives refuse to investigate prior to seeking felony charges and the DA's INTAKE agrees to seek them, you get what you deserve. A conspiracy comprised of: one or more police officers, one or more Detectives, one or more INTAKE staffers & an ADA that lied to the Grand Jury (if they are even utilized in the scheme). The felony trial jury convicts when given one-sided info every time. But, we know that 97% of the time the jury is let go or never empanelled.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Solutions vs. just talk. You got it. Hope it sticks.

The 2013 - Criminal Justice System Individual Public Servant / Employee Accountability Act, would remove the Taxpayers’ from the pyramid and place the responsibility directly on the arresting police officers’, the Detectives , the DA & ADA of record & the Judge (if & when its shown that a false arrest was verifiable and ignored and felony charges were sought, accepted and filed without any form of investigation performed).

If the hired or appointed CDL is shown to have refused to investigate prior to filing its first “Ready for Trial” notice, he / she qualifies for being charged with ‘Impersonating’ a licensed legal representative and if they accepted any form of payment prior to filing, additional charges of ‘Depriving’ legal client of services (Theft of Services).

If the case if disposed of via: being advised to change pleas and Plea Bargain and its shown that one or more had proof of Actual innocence prior to the plea change, the victim qualifies for no less than 1 million dollars to be paid out from the County, City & Unions Employee Accounts’. Releasing the taxpayers from footing the bill for criminal activity committed by public servants.

Now, all we need is for someone to take time to assist us in getting this solution tweaked and brought before the Rs’ & Ds’ running and wishing to run the fixed / rigged game. *Anyone knowing of such a person or group, is asked to get them on board. (No more immunity for you or you or you).

Ryan Paige said...

I've contacted numerous members of the Legislature trying to get them to act on impeaching Ken Anderson so he'd at least be removed from the bench. Only Speaker Straus' office ever contacted me back, and that was only to falsely tell me that the Legislature has no power to impeach a District Judge.

The fact is that nobody cares that Ken Anderson is going to escape punishment. Greg Abbott can refuse to appoint a special prosecutor and Jana Duty can say she's got a conflict of interest that bars her office from trying the case, and no one will ever hold them accountable for it. Heck, you can't even get a reporter to ask Abbott about it.

It's obviously just not something that enough people care about. There's never going to be a March on Austin to get the story the attention that it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Why is Anderson still alive? The Aryan Brotherhood needs to get this guy ASAP and save the tax payers a lot of trouble!

Anonymous said...

i just have to say so glad mr morton recieved compensation for the years he had to be in prison. he deserves so much more than 2 mil. i believe in the state of texas there are many more innocent people in prison than in any other state. the texas justice system is very corrupt.