John Bradley's Loss as Williamson County D.A. Was a Win for Craig Watkins and Innocence

Categories: Politics

Bradley.jpg
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John Bradley, Williamson County District Attorney
If Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins has a direct foil in the state of Texas, it's soon-to-be-former Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley.

Watkins, actively pursuing innocence claims and making Dallas the leading county for exonerations in Texas, is an outlier, albeit one who is gaining supporters around the country for his tough-but-nice-guy legal philosophies. Meanwhile, Bradley upholds a reputation for being relentlessly tough on crime -- and innocence.

But in yesterday's primaries, Bradley, a 10-year incumbent, lost to Jana Duty, the County Attorney, by 10 percentage points, after Duty harped on the fact that Bradley worked hard to prevent DNA testing for Michael Morton, who was found innocent of killing his wife and was released after 25 years in prison.

Lawyers defending Morton allege that he would not have been wrongfully convicted if prosecutor, Ken Anderson, had not deliberately withheld evidence that pointed to his innocence. Anderson faces a Court of Inquiry in September and has denied any wrongdoing, and Bradley has been portrayed as acting in support of his predecessor by fighting DNA testing on the bloody bandana, eventually the key to Morton's freedom.

Bradley has told the Texas Tribune he was "deeply challenged" by what he had been through in the Morton case. It seemed the experience caused him to warm up to the idea of justice for the innocence in time for the election -- but it wasn't enough to tip the scales.

In an interview before Tuesday's election, Gary Udashen, president of the Innocence Project of Texas, made it clear that voters in Williamson County were casting ballots that would have statewide implications for the innocence movement.

"If John Bradley loses his election in Williamson county, then that's a loud message to prosecutors all over the state is that there actually are consequences to engaging in prosecutorial misconduct," Udashen said. He pointed to the fact that many innocence cases, both those that include DNA evidence (like Morton's) and those that do not, include instances where prosecutors either deliberately or mistakenly withhold evidence in support of a person's innocence.

In an NPR interview in January of 2011, the differing philosophies of Bradley and Watkins were on blast as the two top prosecutors bickered on-air, Bradley criticizing Watkins for basking in the spotlight and Watkins harping on the idea of seeking justice, not just convictions.

"I hope you remember that you have other elected prosecutors in Texas who have been doing many of these same things," Bradley said, pointing out that just because an office doesn't have a special division dedicated to freeing innocent prisoners doesn't mean they don't have traditional channels for doing so.

"You enjoy the national media, you enjoy the attention that you get. We have a lot of prosecutors who don't seek that. They seek justice by reviewing these cases carefully and making sure that a guilty violent person is not released," Bradley said.

Watkins response is more true today than ever: "Well obviously that didn't work."

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13 comments
Johnboy
Johnboy

When accept a plea bargain in Williamson county you have to sign a document giving up your constitutional rite to appeal. One Of Mister Bradley's diabolic twists of the law. The applet courts have ruled it is unconstitutional to make some one give up their rite to appeal. But when you coerce people to plead guilty you have to do everything possible to cover up the evidence!

Docile Jim Brady
Docile Jim Brady

Congratulation Texans . The ballot box can be very effective ‼

And it is so much kinder than assassination , as Heydrich learned seventy years ago .

MiMi LLawsonn
MiMi LLawsonn

Now if ALL of the states can get RID of the CORRUPT PROSECUTORS.....perhaps the country would be so much better off.....

Joe L
Joe L

This is very heartening.  It is high time for Texans to wake up to the hideous track record on this count that we have, especially here in Dallas with the grossly unconscionable legacy of Henry Wade.

"No other county in America — and almost no state, for that matter — has freed more innocent people from prison in recent years than Dallas County, where Wade was DA from 1951 through 1986."

Won't some one start a petition to remove his name from the Juvenile Justice Center?

Tim Covington
Tim Covington

"Lawyers defending Morton allege that he would not have been wrongfully convicted if prosecutor, Ken Anderson, had not deliberately withheld evidence that pointed to his innocence. "

This points out why I believe that prosecutorial misconduct should result in jail time. Anderson should be facing at least 25 years in prison, if the allegations are true.

Micharljnes
Micharljnes

Farewell,goodbye,you won't be missed!!!!

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Very glad to see he's gone.  Too bad he won't be prosecuted for the hell he participated in putting that man through.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

This one of a very few bright stars in Tuesday night's election results. Bradley was also responsible for tanking the Todd Willingham review at the request of Rick Perry.  Good riddance.

Jay
Jay

Intentional prosecutor misconduct of this nature should be treated like perjury. First,  prosecution for perjury, then follow a conviction with disbarment.

Alfredo
Alfredo

A Court of Inquiry starts September 11th into the conduct of Judge Anderson, who denies he did anything wrong.  It is important to remember that Brady opposed DNA testing.  Anderson is alleged not to have turned over all evidence to the defense in that he didn't tell the defense that Morton's  mother-in-law gave a statement that the 3yo son had seen the prep, and it wasn't his dad and that someone had attempted to use her credit cards in San Antonio. 

Rusty Hardin, currently defending Roger Clemens, will be the prosecutor.  Should be interesting

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I agree 100%, there need to be SEVERE criminal penalties for such misconduct.

Docile Jim Brady
Docile Jim Brady

 Thanks for the good write , Alfredo .

“ … Judge Anderson, who denies he did anything wrong. ”

Eichman denied that he did anything wrong , as several prosecutors and judges at Nuremberg claimed .

Informatively , the Third Reich prosecutors and judges had NOT sworn allegiance to a Constitution as U.S. judges and prosecutors must ‼

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