Williamson County, Texas, District Attorney John Bradley is the winner of our 2011 Worst Prosecutor of the Year award. It was a tight four-way race for the first day. North Carolina DA Tracey Cline then broke open a small lead on day two, before Bradley closed on the final day of voting.
A few updates on Bradley: On January 4, UPI reported that the Texas State Bar cleared Bradley of any ethics violations for spending 20 years fighting the DNA test that kept Michael Morton in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This isn’t terribly surprising. State bars are notoriously lax at disciplining misbehaving prosecutors.
In this November New York Times profile that I didn’t catch when researching Bradley to nominate him, Bradley actually shows some contrition, going so far as to say the DNA results in the Morton case—which, again, he fought like to prevent from ever happening—have changed him. I hope that’s the case, but I’m inclined to think that after the Morton case, after having once advised another prosecutor to seek plea agreements that allow evidence to be destroyed so it can’t be tested in the future on an innocence claim, and after doing all he could to bury any investigation into the Cameron Todd Willingham case, Bradley’s period of penance should probably last more than a few months.
Nevertheless, even after all of that, last year Bradley was still elected to the board of directors (PDF) of the National District Attorneys Association. (Nominee Anita Alvarez is also on the board.) I don’t know if his election was the result of obliviousness to the controversy surrounding Bradley or a way of symbolically defying Bradley’s detractors. Either way, it really doesn’t speak well of the organization’s membership. Or at least of its voting membership.
Bradley is up for reelection for his current DA position. His critics have adopted an amusing way to protest his candidacy: They’re hanging bandannas from Bradley’s campaign sings. The DNA that eventually cleared Michael Morton was taken from a bandanna left at the crime scene.
A few updates from the other 2011 nominees:
- Someone from the office of Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood appears to be cleaning up his Wikipedia page.
- Hood is also seeking to “undo” Haley Barbour’s controversial end-of-term pardons, and has won an injunction on the pardons from a state circuit court judge.
- Cline, the Durham, North Carolina, DA, again attempted to have a judge removed from one of her cases, alleging bias and conspiracy. She was again denied.
- Prince William County, Virginia, State’s Attorney Paul Ebert has been called in as a “special prosecutor” in another high-profile case.