State Bar Dismisses Bradley Misconduct Grievance

John Bradley, Williamson County District Attorney in Georgetown, TX Friday November 11, 2011. Bradley is responsible for prosecuting felony criminal offenses that are committed in Williamson County.
John Bradley, Williamson County District Attorney in Georgetown, TX Friday November 11, 2011. Bradley is responsible for prosecuting felony criminal offenses that are committed in Williamson County.

Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley today released a letter from the State Bar of Texas informing him that the agency has dismissed a grievance filed against him in the Michael Morton case.

"Today, I received written confirmation that the alleged grievance filed against me did NOT demonstrate any misconduct on my part," Bradley said in an email (the emphasis is his). "As the report from the Innocence Project indicated, the DA's office acted professionally and ethically in handling the Morton claim of innocence, arising from a 25-year old conviction through a different prosecutor."

Morton was exonerated last year after spending nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's murder in 1986. DNA evidence revealed that another man's biological material was mixed with Christine Morton's blood on a bandana found near the crime scene. The same DNA was linked to hair found at the scene of an unsolved Austin murder that happened in 1988, after Morton had been sentenced to life in prison.

Morton's lawyers, however, discovered that other evidence existed at the time of the trial that pointed to Morton's innocence, and they allege that the prosecutor deliberately withheld that information from the judge and from defense lawyers. They are seeking a court of inquiry to determine whether Ken Anderson, who prosecuted Morton before becoming a state district judge, should face criminal charges and professional discipline for his role in the case. Anderson, Bradley's predecessor in the DA's office, has insisted he did nothing wrong and that he regrets Morton's wrongful conviction.

In November, the Texas Coalition on Lawyer Accountability filed grievances against Anderson and other prosecutors involved in the case, including Bradley. Bradley took over as prosecutor long after Morton was in prison, but he fought for six years against the DNA testing that eventually led to the exoneration. Bradley, however, has said that he did not know about evidence that was allegedly withheld during Morton's 1987 trial and that he fought the request for testing based on Anderson's advice.

Bradley, who is facing a Republican challenger in his re-election bid, has said he was profoundly affected by the Morton case and has undergone a transformation in his prosecutorial philosophy. In the future, he has said, he will be more open-minded when it comes to defendants' innocence claims.

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