Editorial: House passes exonerations panel; Senate should follow suit | Dallas Morning News
The commission would be named for the late Timothy Cole, an Army veteran and Texas Tech student who was tossed into prison on a bogus rape conviction in 1985. Cole died behind bars after 13 years, but his family and legal advocates never quit the fight to clear his name. A decade after his death, DNA tests proved another man committed the crime, and Cole became the first Texan to receive a posthumous pardon.
Newspapers and broadcasters don’t have much of an affinity for the truth, even though the consequences are quite costly for taxpayers.
The truth of the Timothy Cole story is that the actual rapist, Jerry Wayne Johnson, came forward in 1995, in plenty of time to save the kid’s life.
After Cole was convicted, the real rapist quietly waited for the statute of limitations to run out. Then, in 1995, Johnson wrote a letter to the district court in Lubbock in which he confessed to raping Mallin. He got no reply. So he wrote another letter asking for an attorney so that he could legally confess. Again, he was ignored.
Johnson eventually wrote to the former Lubbock district attorney who prosecuted the case, Jim Bob Darnell, and asked for his help. There was only silence in reply.
Prosecutors are responsible for Timothy Cole’s death. And they won’t be held accountable.
Misconduct remains lawful. Unless the Department of Justice files a suit for violation of rights, public attorneys have complete immunity. Bar associations are supposed to address misconduct by assessing fines and fees, and/or imposing temporary or permanent disbarment.
Supposed to. But they don’t. The Bar sent up a trial balloon of pretend accountability – in Texas – regarding the framing of Michael Morton. I shot it down. Ken Anderson served only a few days in jail after faux Bar action, with the media burying the fact that Anderson’s framing of Morton allowed the actual killer to kill again. He took the life of another young mother, Debra Masters Baker. Justice is being delayed for her family, in order to keep the ties to Morton being framed quiet.
There may be a state where an exoneration panel could work, with the media paying strict attention to whether any smoke and mirrors are being deployed.
But it sure the hell isn’t Texas.