Is The Texas Prosecutor Withholding Evidence In Your Case?
The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct require prosecutors to comply with the Michael Morton Act and the Texas Criminal Code of Procedure article 39.14.
The Michael Morton Act was signed into law on May 16, 2013, to make certain an open discovery process. The Act requires an open file policy, and removes barriers for accessing evidence prosecutors have in their possession.
The bill was created after Michael Morton was wrongfully convicted in 1987 in a Williamson County, Texas court of the 1986 murder of his wife Christine Morton. He spent almost 25 years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence which supported his claim of innocence and pointed to the crime being committed by another individual. Morton was released from prison on October 4, 2011, and the prosecutor was convicted of contempt of court for withholding evidence after the judge had ordered its release to the defense.
Now, that the prosecutor's office is required to provide all of their evidence to the defense attorneys it has created strains on current staff and technology to comply with the discovery the law requires to be turned over. The question now becomes are investigators taking short cuts to lower the discovery costs?
The Michael Morton Act also no longer allows prosecutors, as a condition for providing the information in their files that they are obligated to disclose, require criminal defense attorneys to agree not to show or provide copies of the information to their clients, or require criminal defense attorneys to agree to waive court ordered discovery in the client's case.
However, now Texas prosecutors are asking defense attorneys to sign a waiver (1) acknowledging that the State has turned over all evidence mandated by the Morton Act before the defendant enters a guilty plea and (2) waiving the State's obligation to hand over exculpatory evidence after the defendant has entered the plea.
When a defendant waives the State's obligation to produce exculpatory after a plea is entered it may seriously impair the grounds that can be raised in post-conviction writs. This exculpatory evidence would be any new evidence that would prove your innocence.
To avoid being wrongfully convicted of a crime, or denied access to evidence in the State's possession an experienced Texas attorney can help.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges or desires to institute post-conviction relief proceedings call us today for a free case evaluation and consultation.
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