Nov 282013
 

Williamson County, Texas. Public domain map courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin, modified to show counties. The image was modified from the public domain source by either Wapcaplet or [[:en:User:

Williamson County, Texas. Public domain map courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin, modified to show counties. The image was modified from the public domain source by either Wapcaplet or [[:en:User:

Michael Morton was serving nearly 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife that he had not committed. He was convicted in 1987 in Williamson County, Texas, based entirely on circumstantial evidence. As Vincent Simmons’ district attorney, Morton’s prosecutor Ken Anderson had withheld favorable evidence from the defense. Unlike Simmons, Morton was “lucky,” because he is one of those somewhat privileged victims of the system who could prove their innocence through the technology of DNA testing. Morton was exonerated in October of last year.

Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson resigned from his post as Williamson County District Judge by sending Governor Rick Perry a letter on September 23, 2013. According to the Innocence Project newsletter of September 30, 2013, “the state convened a Court of Inquiry to investigate whether Anderson committed criminal acts by failing to turn over evidence pointing to Morton’s Innocence. In April, a Texas judge ruled there was probable cause to believe Anderson violated three criminal laws, and he was charged with the offenses. The Texas Bar Association also brought ethical charges against Anderson. A trial on those charges was scheduled to begin today but was adjourned for a month.”

In the newsletter of November 27, 2013, the Innocence Project reports that “Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson entered a plea to criminal contempt for deliberately withholding exculpatory evidence pointing to the innocence of Michael Morton.” Anderson received 10 days in Williamson County Jail, a $500 fine, 500 hours of community service and permanently surrendered his license to practice law.

The Innocence Project newsletter reads, “This marks an extremely rare instance, and perhaps the first time, that a prosecutor has been criminally punished for failing to turn over exculpatory evidence that led to a wrongful conviction.”

The Innocence Project is cooperating with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the Texas Innocence Project to review other cases and determine whether there are more wrongfully convicted prisoners, whom Anderson had prosecuted.

Read more here and here.

If this damage limitation can be called “punishment” is another question. But if an unethical ex-prosecutor and current judge can be stopped this way in Texas, it is possible anywhere. When will it happen in Louisiana?

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Dec 062011
 


By Oregonian for Justice

September 7, 2011

I have read this book thoroughly and though it is hard for people to admit, especially those who work for the system, errors are made every day. Mr. Simmons never received a fair trial. Fairness is the cornerstone of the American criminal justice system. Thank the Lord for people like Katja Pumm, who see things for how they truly are. Even though she is not from the USA, she knows our system is broke and needs fixing. She simply requests a proper trial. It seems like that is like asking for the Sun and Moon! Mr. Simmons proclaims his innocence. He is innocent until, and only until, he is PROVEN guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. Ms. Pumm provides us plenty of reasonable doubt in her debut book, but above all, she clearly shows that Mr. Simmons was denied a fair trial. Until he has a fair trial, he is still innocent. Keep up the great work, Ms. Pumm!

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Jul 282011
 

Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, United States Congress image
Courtesy U.S. federal government

The State of Louisiana has executed 15 of 28 individuals sentenced to death under Governor Edwin W. Edwards since 1976 — 13 by electrocution and 2 by lethal injection.

Edwin Edwards himself has recently finished an 8+ year term in federal prison for a corruption conviction and still claims that he was merely guilty of arrogance.

If Edwards actually does know the pain, damage, and what it means to be imprisoned for a crime one did not commit, would it not be a good thing for him to use his popularity and powerful connections to help free those in Louisiana’s penal system who can prove their innocence, but are repeatedly denied their constitutional rights in court?

Vincent Simmons is a native from Edwards’ home parish and one of those who are not just serving a few years, but decades, life without the benefit of parole, pardon or suspension of sentence, or even a death sentence in prison — wrongfully convicted.

Edwards and his third wife may be the stars of a new TV show soon. Nothing specific is known. However, a reality television show about the struggle of innocent prisoners would not only be entertaining, interesting and educational, it might be constructive and improve the injustice system. What you say, Mr. Edwards? Are you ready to step on your political friends’ toes?

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Jul 272011
 

Governor of Louisiana Edwin W. Edwards

Governor of Louisiana Edwin W. Edwards, United States Congress image
Courtesy U.S. federal government

He is a native of Marksville (Avoyelles Parish), Democrat, was Louisiana’s first Roman Catholic governor (1972-1976, 1976-1980, 1984-1988, 1992-1996), signed Louisiana’s Constitution of 1974, is labeled as “crook”, “gambler” and “womanizer,” and he served a federal prison term from 2002 until 2011 for a corruption conviction involving riverboat casino licenses.

As Vincent Simmons, Edwards has maintained his innocence from the start. Even officially political opponents as David C. Treen and J. Bennett Johnston, Jr. believe Edwards was railroaded. They asked U.S. President George W. Bush to pardon him in 2007, but Republican Bush denied the then 80-year-old early release on pardon.

As his late friend “Potch” Didier, former long-term sheriff of Avoyelles Parish, Edwards always was ahead of his time. After the Civil Rights Movement, many women and most African-Americans did not vote for conservative candidates. The “Cajun King,” as Edwards also was called, was a minority-friendly politician. The people of Louisiana elected the charismatic Avoyellean with lots of wit four times as governor and made him an undefeated record holder.

Even now, the convicted and released white collar criminal still has many supporters and connections. Edwards indicated to the media that he feels he is more popular today than before his conviction due to him taking the injustice in his case like a man.

No doubt, Edwin Edwards has returned to society with a bang as though he wanted to announce his comeback with a “Now-more-than-ever” attitude. Leo Honeycutt, an award winning journalist and author, wrote Edwin Edwards’ newest biography when the federal inmate was still confined. Trina Grimes Scott (32) of Alexandria, Louisiana, read the book, wrote and visited Edwards (83) in prison. Both will marry this Friday before Edwards’ 84th birthday on August 7, 2011.

Edwin Edwards has a Facebook page and his (third) soon-to-be-wife posts much about her life with him on the social network platform. The 16-year-governor is in the spotlight again. The couple attends public events, tours the state promoting his biography, and might participate in a reality television show in the near future.

Edwin Edwards is a retired lawyer and politician, but he never seems to quit being an entertainer. How far is he going for publicity?

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