Williamson Co judge facing charges of withholding evidence - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Williamson Co judge facing charges of withholding evidence

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A Williamson County District Judge was in court on Tuesday facing allegations of withholding evidence in a controversial murder conviction.

Instead of the bench, Williamson County 277th State District Judge, Ken Anderson, sat where defendants do in a courtroom.

His attorneys are trying to clear his name after being accused of hiding evidence in the Christine Morton murder trial in 1987.

Then district attorney Anderson prosecuted Michael Morton. Morton spent nearly 25 years in prison. He was freed from prison last year after DNA showed another suspect in his wife's murder.

Mark Alan Norwood is now charged with Christine Morton's murder. He's also a suspect in the 1988 killing of Debra Masters Baker in Austin.

This hearing is a result of Morton's attorneys accusing Anderson of not turning over key evidence, which he was legally required to do, that could have kept Morton out of prison. Evidence such as a memo to an investigator regarding a telephone tip about a check made out to Mrs. Morton that was cashed nine days after her murder. As well as a report stating that neighbors had seen a man park a green van on the street behind the Morton home on several occasions before the murder. Also a transcript of Mrs. Morton's mother describing how her three year old grandson saw the murder and said his father wasn't home.

One of Anderson's attorneys, Eric Nichols, says they are pressing for communications between Morton's lawyers.

"It would be wholly inappropriate for persons to come forward and talk about communications they had with their lawyers at the time, and claim that the door had not been open and we're not allowed to ask questions at what the lawyers knew and when they knew it," said Nichols.

One of Michael Morton's attorneys, Gerry Goldstein, says they are giving up attorney client privilege from 25 years ago. He says they shouldn't have to for Tuesday's hearing.

"What we're not agreeing to do is what your lawyer would want is when the lawyers are talking about this hearing, I don't want them to look at what I'm talking to my other lawyers about our strategy any more than I think it's fair for me to read the papers they're writing to each other at counsel table. Those communications by lawyers during a proceeding are privileged," said Goldstein.

The actual Court of Inquiry is set for December 10 where a finding of misconduct could lead to criminal charges. The Supreme Court of Texas has appointed a judge in a disciplinary hearing. The State Bar of Texas is alleging Anderson violated disciplinary rules of professional conduct.

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