Exactly one week before the start of his attorney-disciplinary trial, 277th District Judge Ken Anderson notified Gov. Rick Perry that he was resigning the bench “effective immediately.”
On Sept. 30, Anderson will defend himself in a suit by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, which alleges that Anderson — then the Williamson County district attorney — committed professional misconduct in the 1987 murder trial of Michael Morton. Anderson has denied the allegations. Morton spent nearly 25 years in prison before DNA evidence exonerated him of the crime.
Eric Nichols, co-counsel for Anderson, writes in an email that Anderson issued the following statement: “I have spent the past 28 years as an elected official. … I greatly appreciate the support I have received from the public, the Bar, the law enforcement community, judiciary, and other public officials. There comes a time when every public official must decide that it is time to leave public life. For me and my family, that time is now. For the foreseeable future I will be focused solely on making the transition into private life. … “
Anderson gave his resignation notice in a letter dated Sept. 23, which was faxed to the governor’s office on Sept. 24 at 8:17 a.m. Later that day, Perry wrote Anderson a letter to accept the resignation.
“On behalf of the citizens of Texas, I extend my appreciation and gratitude for your service to the State of Texas and wish you all the best in your future endeavors,” Perry wrote in the letter.
John Raley, who represented Morton in seeking his exoneration, wrote in part in an email, “Judge Ken Anderson’s resignation is long overdue, and we have little doubt that the voters would not have reelected him in next year’s contest. … We look forward to an adjudication of the pending disciplinary action brought by the state bar as well as the pending criminal charges. Judge Anderson deserves a fair trial, but if there are findings against him in either proceeding, we would expect that appropriate penalties be imposed.”
Julie Oliver, who filed the initial grievance against Anderson, says about his resignation, “I think it was definitely the right thing for him to do. … Given everything that has come out, I think that it makes it hard for people to … have confidence in his ability to be a fair and impartial judge.”
Claire Mock, spokeswoman for the State Bar of Texas Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which represents the CFLD in the disciplinary suit, didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment.