Is the Court System Fair?

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Is the Court System Fair?
Lynette Price
CJA-224
9/03/2012
Professor John Pierce

Throughout generations, the public joke of how attorneys are like sharks, they “circle around their prey before they head in for the kill” has been proven through ruthlessness and relentlessness to acquire and win a court case, especially if the possible case is high-profile (a Hollywood star, a nationally known football player, singer, a television show icon and etc.) The stigma of working in one of the top career areas, attorneys are labeled untrustworthy, shady, and corrupt, sometimes giving into the pressures of prosecutorial misconduct, judicial misconduct or misconduct by the defense counsel (by not properly representing the client) in order to boost their own careers regardless of the consequences. All three misconduct actions mentioned could be a layers biggest nightmare unless the attorney stays on the legal side of the law without any outside influences. In this essay, three real-life court cases from Oklahoma, Texas, New York and Kentucky, will show the misconduct by the three main courtroom players, the judge, the prosecution and the defense, and what the outcome of the case turned out to be.

To layout the groundwork of the first real-life case, it was found in the New York Times archives. “The victim, Mr. Michael Morton’s life changed drastically in December of 2011, when he was finally released from a Texas prison after spending almost 25 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Morton’s case was reopened by a nationally known non-profit group of people, who are law students, fully credited attorney’s and etc. called “The Innocence Project” where a DNA test had been requested therefore proving beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Morton was not his wife’s killer”. (NY Times-2011) Now, to address the question of “what did the prosecutor do wrong and how does immunity protect the prosecutor from the consequences of his/her misconduct? As for the prosecutor in this first case, “Mr. Ken Anderson, who by the way has stepped up into a judgeship within the county of where the crime occurred, disobeyed a direct order from the trial court to produce the exculpatory police reports from the lead investigator in the case. (NY Times-2011) And after Mr. Anderson was given the judgeship, according to the article, “he (Mr. Anderson) advised his successor as prosecutor to oppose all of Mr. Morton’s post-conviction motions for DNA testing” (NY Times-2011) which would further prove that another man committed the murder which was written in the police reports that were not presented to the defendant as per the “Brady Rule-1963”. To give a quick explanation of the Brady Rule, “this landmark decision was made by the Supreme Court in 1963 that requires that prosecutors disclose evidence favorable to the defendant. And of course, as usual, the prosecutor that failed in his job on this case was not sanctioned or punished by the Court”. As for the immunity of the prosecutor in this civil case, the Supreme Court ruled that the prosecutor’s should face penalties, fines and even disbarment (NY Times-2011) But like the little boy at school that can do nothing wrong, the prosecution wasn’t held to its higher standards nor held in contempt of court due to their position as defender for the state and they can’t do anything wrong in the eyes of some courts across America. Not only are prosecutor’s show misconduct but also judges are equally liable for misconduct from time to time. The synopsis of the article found regarding judicial misconduct was found in the State of Oklahoma where a judge and her spouse are found guilty of procuring funds for children supposedly adopted by the couple on a monthly basis over the span of 2-3 years. According to the article from the Channel 9 news website, “Tammy Bess-Lesure had taken approximately $19000.00 from the State for kids that were no longer living in her home. The Oklahoma County...
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