A recent study released by the Prosecutorial Oversight Coalition and conducted by the Veritas Initiative of California found that although Texas prosecutors committed error in 91 cases between 2004 and 2008, none of those cases resulted in disciplinary action against the prosecutor. Misconduct was found most often in murder cases. Courts upheld the conviction in 72 of the cases and reversed it in 19. At a symposium discussing the research, two men who were wrongfully convicted because of prosecutorial misconduct, Michael Morton of Texas and John Thompson of Louisiana, called for increased accountability in such instances. Thompson spent 16 years on death row and was eventually freed, but a financial judgment he had won against the District Attorney’s office was reversed. In Morton’s case, a court of inquiry scheduled to begin in September will investigate whether the prosecutor (who is now a judge) committed criminal misconduct in withholding evidence, resulting in Morton’s being wrongly imprisoned for 25 years. Cookie Ridolfi, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and one of the researchers for the study, said, “Most prosecutorial misconduct is not intentional, but we know from John Thompson’s and Michael Morton’s cases that when it happens, the consequences can be devastating. What’s clear from this data is that we’re not doing nearly enough to document the scope of the problem and the disciplinary systems as they currently exist are vastly inadequate.”

(B. Grissom, “Study: Prosecutors Not Disciplined for Misconduct,” Texas Tribune, March 30, 2012; Prosecutorial Oversight Coalition, “New Research Illustrates Lack of Accountability for Prosecutors in Texas,” Press Release, March 29, 2012.)