The Michael Morton case has made headlines multiple times over the years. Morton was released from prison in October of 2011, after spending 25 years behind bars for the murder of his wife, Christine...a crime he didn't commit. The real killer, Mark Norwood, has since been convicted of the murder of Christine and has been indicted in the murder of Debra Master Baker.
Morton's life was turned upside down by not only the loss of his wife and his time in prison, but by the damage done to the relationship with his son, who was only three at the time of his mother's death. In spite of several pieces of evidence that would have cleared Morton, prosecutor Ken Anderson withheld the evidence in a pre-trial hearing in 1987, stating he had no evidence that was favorable for Morton. The Innocence Project helped to show this evidence existed and in the release of Morton.
Anderson was found to be in criminal contempt of court for this act, which is an extremely rare, and perhaps the first time, a prosecutor has been held criminally responsible for withholding evidence. While this is a great victory for the wrongfully convicted, and hopefully a step in the right direction to hold prosecutors accountable for their cases, the punishment handed down to Anderson has left many angry. His punishment? 10 days in prison, a $500 fine, and 500 hours of community service. 10 days, compared to the 25 years that were taken from Morton because of Anderson. There are many that are calling for Anderson to be held at least partially responsible for the death of Debra Masters Baker as well, for had he dropped the charges against Morton based on the many pieces of evidence that pointed away from him, detectives may have found Norwood before he murdered Baker years later.
Anderson began his sentence on Tuesday, November 12th. He'll be released on the 21st, which means he won't miss a single holiday while in prison. Morton missed 25 Christmases, Thanksgivings, birthdays, and many other holidays; Anderson is being given a light sentence that will have little impact on his life.
What do you think of the punishment? Is 10-days enough to deter other prosecutors from withholding evidence?