Despite lingering questions over district boundaries and key dates, Texas’ 2012 election cycle is in full swing. Grassroots activism will play an important role in many races. Allegations of Williamson County public corruption and rampant cronyism have abounded over the last 18 months with these concerns now manifesting in an aggressive, diverse grassroots movement that can’t help but influence election outcomes both in April and November.
Michael Morton’s exoneration in a false murder conviction that kept him wrongfully incarcerated for nearly 25 years has deservedly rocked the public’s faith in many of their county government officials. An investigation into the process associated with Morton’s conviction has only produced more fodder for discontentment. Morton’s prosecution was overseen by then-District Attorney Ken Anderson who is now a Williamson County District Judge. The Morton case has cast significant doubt on Anderson’s professional conduct, doubt that only intensified after his recent deposition performance.
The Wilco Watchdog, a citizen journalist effort, recently reported how attorney Adam Reposa has “turned up the heat another notch on Judge Ken Anderson” by making available yard signs featuring the judge. Per the Watchdog, “Reposa said he hopes the public will apply added pressure to Anderson in resigning and post these in their yards.” Reposa is providing signs to anyone who wants them at no charge and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, reports of a “bandana bandit” describe how political signs of Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley are being tagged with red bandanas in an obvious reference to the Morton case. Bradley is being challenged in the Republican primary by current County Attorney Jana Duty.
For six years, Bradley fought DNA testing of a bandana – testing that eventually provided evidence prompting Morton’s prison release and subsequent exoneration. He also fought the release of additional non-DNA evidence that further supported the defense theory of an intruder having killed Christine Morton and, had the evidence not been ignored and/or suppressed in 1986-87, could have created sufficient reasonable doubt to prevent Michael Morton’s conviction.
Grits for Breakfast, another citizen watchdog entity, recently alerted fellow Texans that thanks to Radley Balko and his The Agitator web site, John Bradley is a nominee for “The 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year” award. Competing in a field of ten, Bradley currently leads the pack with a 100+ points separating him and his closest rival.
And now, a have-to-see-to-believe YouTube video parodies John Bradley as Hitler. The video clip is a German-language film featuring a none-too-happy Hitler character sub-titled with a John Bradley/Michael Morton case-oriented storyline. It references Anderson, Morton attorney John Raley and Bradley’s election opponent Jana Duty in a presentation that reminds how creativity and humor can provide the most powerful of messages.
Grassroots activism indeed will be an influential force in this year’s elections. Williamson County is a shining example. Activism, however, means nothing unless people show up at the ballot box. March 5 is currently the last day for voter registration ahead of the April 3 primary. Let your voice be heard – every vote will count!
Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com, a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity Foundation – Texas and a Director of Women on the Wall. Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.