Prosecutor Who Lied to Secure Death Penalty Is Disbarred

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on February 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Netflix series "Making a Murderer" almost seems echoed by Texas' Board of Disciplinary Appeals' decision to disbar a former prosecutor who lied and hid evidence in a death penalty case.

The victim of this alleged miscarriage of justice is Mr. Anthony Graves who pushed to have a man who prosecuted him disbarred. On Monday, he was vindicated in his quest.

Texas Disbars Former Prosecutor, Charles Sebesta

The Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals affirmed a lower decision to disbar Charles Sebesta for his conduct in convicting Graves several decades ago. According to AlJazeera America, Mr. Graves spent 18 years in prison -- 12 of them waiting on death row.

Sebesta was the prosecutor in the Texas Arson-Murder case. He doggedly pursued a case against another party, Robert Carter and attempted to pursued Carter into either testifying or admitting that Graves was an accomplice in the crime.

According to a Texas licensing board, Carter told Sebesta that Graves had nothing to do with the murders and that he acted alone. Sebesta did not disclose this information to the defense. This is a major ethics violation for prosecutors who's primary charge is to uphold justice. He compounded the sin by producing false evidence to implicate Graves and also blocked a witness from appearing in court that would have supported Graves' alleged alibi.

Record for Exonerations

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 2015 was a record year: 149 this year in the United States and the territories. The timing is serendipitous (or perhaps even related) to increased national condemnation of false convictions that have put people away for crimes they didn't commit.

The exoneration number can be looked at as either good news or as bad news. From the brighter angle, it probably means that there is a stronger effort to exonerate persons who've wrongly been convicted of crimes. From a darker angle, it either points to an increased agenda by prosecutors in recent years to bypass justice or it means that juries were too quick to jump at the wrong man. Either way, nobody really wins.

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