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"Last week, two men were released after spending 30 years in prison in North Carolina. They were falsely convicted of rape and murder in 1983. They were both exonerated by DNA evidence. The man who prosecuted them is, proudly, no pussy.
Henry Lee McCollum (pictured) and Leon Brown are both mentally disabled. It now appears that their confessions to the crime were coerced, and the details in their confessions the product of prompting by the police. McCollum was sent to death row; Brown got a life sentence. Their exoneration after 30 years marks the end of a horrific miscarriage of justice.
The New York Times Richard Oppel Jr. paid a visit to North Carolina to profile Joe Freeman Britt, the prosecutor who sent both of the innocent men to prison. Britt was a notoriously harsh D.A. who sent 40 people to death row during the course of his career. He is also a living symbol of the gross, almost medieval nature of the justice system in small Southern counties. The entire profile draws a picture of a man with awful injustices on his hands, but no regrets. Two quotes will suffice to drive home the point. First, Britt's reply to being told that his successor, a relative, had characterized him as a "bully" during his time as prosecutor.” *
Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime's only eyewitness that Morton wasn't the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson's career flourished, and he eventually became a judge.
In today's deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. Anderson had already resigned in September from his position on the Texas bench.