WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
SYD SMITH CELEBRATION OF LIFE
SYD SMITH: IN MEMORIAM:
Clayton Kaiser and Steven Bustamante and others have emailed us to remind us that there will be a celebration of the life of Sydney Smith this Saturday, November 16, 2013 at the Abbey Brewing Company, 1115 16th Street in Miami Beach, starting at 5pm and lasting until the beer runs out. Syd's brother from England will be present and since this was one of Syd's favourite watering holes, there is general agreement that this is the way Syd would want to be remembered. So stop by on Saturday and hoist a pint to our old departed mate.
S/HE WOULDN'T RISK THEIR BADGE/CAREER....
Whenever we're confronted by evidence of intentional police or prosecutorial misconduct, one of the first refrains from the judge or the lawyers on the other side is to question why the prosecutor or officer would risk their badge or career to prosecute an innocent man? The question more highlights the ignorance of the individual asking the question than it does beg an answer. The reasons why a prosecutor hides exculpatory evidence or an officer lies are as varied as the vast fickleness of human nature.
More often than not however, it starts with prosecutors and officers making an assumption that an individual is guilty and committing themselves to a course of action that gets harder and harder to unravel as the defense digs in. Eventually personalities come into conflict and nobody wants to back down and an innocent man or woman goes to prison. You can convince yourself of a lot of things when your judgement is challenged in an adversarial arena.
We don't know that's what happened to Texas prosecutor Ken Anderson (until a few days ago Judge Anderson) when he indicted Michael Morton for the death of his wife Christine in 1986. But what we do know is that Morton was innocent (exonerated after spending 25 years in prison) and that Anderson hid the exculpatory evidence from Morton's defense even after a Judge ordered him to turn it over. Anderson became a Judge in 2002 and his excuse to the Texas Court investigating his misconduct was that he didn't think he had to comply with the Judge's oral order as opposed to a written order.
Judge Anderson was found to be in contempt of court. He was removed from office, disbarred and sentenced to ten days jail, a $500.00 fine, and 500 hours of community service.
Is this penalty sufficient punishment for a former prosecutor who intentionally hid exculpatory evidence that sent a man to prison for twenty five years, took him away from his now de facto orphaned young son, and basically ruined Michael Morton's life?
We think not.
Anderson deserved to be removed from office, disbarred, and we think a penalty of five years in prison would have been more in line for this type of conduct. Five years in prison for a crime you did commit is a hell of a lot better than twenty five years in prison for a crime you didn't commit.
Here is the Innocence Project's posting of the Texas Court's findings on this mess.
See You In Court, where maybe judges and prosecutors will stop being so willfully blind to the possibility that people on their side of the aisle lie.
Extra Credit Trivia: We had two historical events this week. Veterans Day 11/11. The next up occurred on 11/13- what is it?