There’s never been a shortage of competition for the title of Worst Lawyer in Texas. A top contender for years was the now-deceased Joe Cannon, who slept through much of the 1984 capital murder trial of his client Calvin Burdine, resulting in a death sentence that was later overturned on appeal.
It’s been nine long years since the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Charles Sebesta, the Burleson County DA who prosecuted Anthony Graves for capital murder, had withheld favorable evidence and used false testimony to secure a conviction—a conviction that sent Graves to death row. Graves spent eighteen years in prison, most of it in solitary confinement.
Today, finally, a small measure of justice was served when the State Bar of Texas stripped Sebesta of his law license and formally disbarred him.
It’s been eight years since the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the DA who prosecuted Anthony Graves for capital murder had done something unconscionable: withheld favorable evidence and used false testimony to secure a conviction—a conviction that sent Graves to death row.
Much has happened since we published “Why Was This Prosecutor Never Punished?” on December 18, which questioned why Charles Sebesta—the ex-Burleson County DA responsible for sending Anthony Graves to death row—had never been disciplined by the State Bar of Texas. Specifically, I asked why the state bar had not taken action against Sebesta after the U.S.
The criminal justice world was shook up last month by the news that former Williamson County district attorney Ken Anderson, the prosecutor in the Michael Morton case, had to forfeit his law license, plead guilty to criminal contempt of court charges, and serve jail time. The fact that Anderson would be punished—no matter how
On Friday the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University announced that Texas Monthly executive editor Pam Colloff had won the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. This is, of course, not the first major award for Pam in 2013. Just seven months ago she won a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. But the Lyons is possibly even harder to win than an NMA.
Having spent eighteen years behind bars—twelve of them on death row—for a crime he did not commit, Anthony Graves could be forgiven for making a few impulse buys with the $1.45 million he was awarded in 2011 by the Texas Legislature for his wrongful incarceration. But other than the gleaming white BMW convertible he bought for himself two years ago, he has been careful with his money.
Just how fallible are we? How badly do we mess up when doing something as fundamentally human as using our eyes, words, and memories?
Very, very badly. Especially when we’re under stress, when we’ve witnessed something terrible like a violent crime, and when the police are hanging on our every word—and maybe, just maybe, pushing us to finger a suspect.
If you had assumed that you had heard the last from Charles Sebesta about the Anthony Graves case, you were wrong.
48 Hours Mystery aired an updated version of its hour-long “Grave Injustice” episode about Anthony Graves, who was wrongly imprisoned in 1992 for murders he didn’t commit and finally freed eighteen years later on October 27, 2010.