It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a year since Estate of Denial® wrote Morton murder case suggests Williamson County corruption as fixture over fluke, a column about a then little-known case playing out in our neighboring county that suggested a new depth of public corruption and cronyism in this suburban central Texas locale. Six weeks of court hearings and other fast-paced developments brought a flurry of additional pieces:
We had already spent much of late 2010/early 2011 following another case of a Williamson County judge accused of serious misconduct.
This case resulted in a confidential settlement and protective actions which did far more to demonstrate county officials’ willingness to “circle the wagons” as needed to protect their own opposed to showing respectful action to wronged employees or to providing transparent and accountable representation to the taxpayers they’re elected to serve.
Ironically, the county court system that has contributed greatly to this web site’s inspiration ultimately also spawned one of our more positively memorable days in witnessing the release of Michael Morton. But don’t ever mistake Morton’s release from nearly 25 years in prison based on a wrongful conviction as a heartfelt “righting of a wrong.” This was a case of county officials backed into a corner and having no other options – especially when new DNA testing identified another individual – not Morton – at the murder scene. Concurrent to this development, serious indications of evidence suppression on the part of prosecutors during Morton’s original trial were also uncovered. The evidence believed to have been withheld likely might have prompted a “not guilty” verdict.
Ken Anderson, Williamson County’s then-District Attorney and now a District Judge, is scheduled to face a Court of Inquiry regarding the Morton case. He predictably denies all wrong doing. The inquiry, initially scheduled to begin Sept. 11, was recently pushed back to Dec. 10 at the request of Rusty Hardin, the Houston-based attorney appointed to act as special prosecutor for this proceeding.
EoD’s probate-focused audience might find it of interest that Hardin represented the family of J. Howard Marshall II in the 2000-2001 Houston probate court trial during which a jury found Anna Nicole Smith, Marshall’s wife of 14 months, and his son, J. Howard Marshall III, as having no claim to Marshall’s estate and instead upheld his estate plan naming son E. Pierce Marshall as his father’s legitimate heir. Hardin most recently defended former major league baseball player Roger Clemens in his recent perjury trial.
On another front of this case, the trial of Mark Alan Norwood, the man now accused in the murder of Christine Morton, has been moved from Williamson County and will instead take place in Tom Green County, a county located in west central Texas. That trial is scheduled to start Jan. 7 in San Angelo.