Commissioners ok costs to comply with Morton Act

January 18, 2014

County Attorney Lori Kaspar will be getting a new computer and scanner to help her office comply with the Michael Morton Act, which went into effect Jan. 1.

Signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry last May, the new law is designed to help prevent wrongful convictions.

It is named after Michael Morton, a Williamson County man who was exonerated in 2011 after spending 25 years in prison for the beating death of his wife.

Last year, former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson became what is believed to be the first prosecutor ever criminally punished for withholding exculpatory evidence in a wrongful conviction case.

Anderson resigned his position as Williamson County Judge and spent several days in the Williamson County Jail. He has been disbarred.

The Michael Morton Act compels prosecutors to make their files available to defense attorneys.

Many prosecutors have said that they already were doing so.

The new equipment for the County Attorney’s office will cost the county “just under $2,500,” Assistant County Attorney Deanna Belknap told commissioners.

The court did not appear to have an issue with the need for that equipment, but County Judge Darrell Cockerham and Precinct 2 Commissioner Dick Roan voiced an opinion that they have stated before – that state lawmakers continually impose “unfunded mandates” upon counties.

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