Revising Standards To Reduce Prosecutorial Misconduct

At first, it was unbelievable.  Then, it was maddening.  But as the days, months, and years piled up, I had to accept it.  It wasn’t fair…but as we all learn, life ain’t fair.”

These are the words that Michael Morton used to describe his wrongful conviction and incarceration.  On February 17, 1987, Morton was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison.  The State’s case was simple: “Morton and his wife had a past history of conflict regarding her personal appearance and her lack of interest in sex; he had planned a romantic evening on his birthday; she rejected him; he…beat her to death with a billy club.”  Though Morton admitted their conflict, he denied killing his wife, arguing that an unknown burglar must have committed the crime.  However, a jury convicted him.  Morton appealed, arguing as one of his main points of error that the State had withheld exculpatory Brady material in violation of his right to due process. The court denied that appeal, concluding that there was “nothing more to consider than a mere possibility” that exculpatory evidence had been withheld by the prosecutor on the case.