City of Rockport | Public Safety Notice | April 6, 2018

In the 235 days since Aransas County’s County District Attorney Barnebey quit taking cases from the Rockport Police Department (RPD), she has yet to identify a single instance of where RPD has failed to provide all evidence required by her office that would have led to a violation of Brady v. Maryland or the Michael Morton Act. For 235 days, RPD has asked County District Attorney Barnebey for a protocol or checklist of what her office expects in cases delivered to her office for prosecution. Even though there are examples of such protocols from numerous prosecutor offices across Texas, for 235 days County District Attorney Barnebey has not responded to RPD’s request with a checklist.

Aransas County’s County District Attorney alleges that the Rockport Police Department does not know or abide by Brady v. Maryland or the Michael Morton Act. What are Morton and Brady? The namesake of the Michael Morton Act, effective 1/01/14, was sentenced to life in 1987 for the murder of his wife but was exonerated in 2011 after DNA evidence proved someone else killed her. The police had turned over all evidence to the prosecutor but the original prosecutor withheld evidence that could have proven Morton’s innocence. The prosecutor pled criminal contempt and had to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend ten days in jail. The Michael Morton Act requires prosecutors to open their files to defendants and keep records of the evidence they disclose. The Morton act is a guard against misconduct resulting in an unfair trial for the defendant.

What is meant by a Brady violation? Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case concerning prosecutorial misconduct that established that the prosecution must turn over all evidence that might exonerate the defendant (i.e. exculpatory evidence) to the defense. Brady disclosure consists of exculpatory or impeaching information and evidence that is material to the guilt or innocence or to the punishment of a defendant. Evidence that would serve to reduce the defendant's sentence must also be disclosed by the prosecution.

Questions? Call the Rockport Police Department at (361) 790-1100 or the County/District Attorney at (361) 790-0114

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