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In-Depth Interview: Attorney Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project Talks About Prosecutorial Misconduct

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In the first of a 2-part series on wrongful conviction and misconduct by prosecutors, Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project expands on a recent op-ed she wrote for the NY Times

What happens when prosecutors break the law? Almost nothing.

Nina Morrison is a senior attorney with the Innocence Project in New York, and in this podcast she explains how homicide prosecutors like Glenn Kurtzrock face few consequences when caught concealing exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys. Kurtzrock — who was fired by the district attorney in Suffolk County, NY, after his misconduct was exposed — has never been charged with a crime, and has not faced any disciplinary action from the New York Bar Association.

Morrison explains the legal precedent of the Brady v. Maryland decision, which requires the prosecution to share all evidence in a timely manner, and how there is almost zero accountability. Morrison can claim the only known conviction of a wayward prosecutor, in a Texas case where her client spent 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction because prosecutor Ken Anderson withheld critical evidence of the innocence of Michael Morton.

Anderson had become a judge, and was bounced from the bench and disbarred, but only served six days of an eight-day sentence in county jail.

Morrison notes that about half of 2,200 exonerations are attributed to “official misconduct,” and that many of the 28 exonerations she has won were the result of prosecutorial violations of the law.

We also discuss a powerful commentary by Frederic Block, a federal judge in Brooklyn, who is outraged not only by misconduct, but by a Supreme Court ruling in Taylor v. Kavanaugh that explicitly grants immunity to prosecutors — even for “the falsification of evidence and the coercion of witnesses.”

Recently, both houses of the New York State Legislature have passed bills creating a new commission to investigate misconduct by prosecutors; it awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) signature.

Read Nina Morrison’s New York Times op-ed here.

Read Judge Frederic Block’s commentary here.