In a recent editorial, Bob Ray Sanders of the Star Telegram drew attention to prosecutorial misconduct as one of the key reasons for wrongful convictions, which have been prolific in Texas.In Dallas County alone, more than 30 people have been freed as a result of DNA testing. The most recent exoneration came Monday in Corsicana. Randolph Arledge had been convicted of stabbing Carolyn Armstrong to death. His guilty verdict was based partly on faulty eye-witness testimony — a common flaw in such cases — and statements by two robbery suspects who claimed Arledge told them he had stabbed someone. The two robbery suspects had received favorable treatment in their cases in exchange for their testimony, according the “Memorandum in Support of Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.” Then there’s the case of Larry Ray Swearingen, which I wrote about last month. Swearingen, who many people think is innocent, was scheduled to be executed for the 1998 murder of Melissa Trotter, a 19-year-old Montgomery College student. A district judge stayed that execution on Jan. 30. Wrongful convictions will be a lasting scar on the Texas criminal justice system, which has to be the concern of more people than those involved in the Innocence Project. But in order to address it fully, we also must examine carefully the issue of prosecutorial misconduct.
The National Registry of Exonerations says there have been almost 40 findings of official misconduct out of Texas where individuals were subsequently exonerated.