“Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story” – Christine Morton was murdered in 1986. The day after her body was found, police recovered a bloody bandana found at a construction site located approximately 100 yards away from the Morton home. When police questioned neighbors, they stated that a man had repeatedly parked a green van on the street behind the Morton residence and would walk off into a nearby wooded area. Police records also showed that Christine’s missing credit card had possibly been recovered at a San Antonio, Texas jewelry store and the officer could identify the woman who had attempted to use the card. According to Michael Morton’s lawyers, none of this evidence was turned over to them at the trial. When defense attorneys learned that the prosecution did not plan to call sergeant Don Woods, the chief investigator in the case, to the stand, they suspected that the prosecution night be concealing potentially exculpatory evidence. The defense raised this concern with the trial judge, who ordered the prosecution to turn over all reports by Sergeant Woods so that he could conduct a thorough review. Evidence concerning eyewitness accounts, the green van, and Christine Morton’s credit card were all absent from the records given to the judge.
Ken Anderson, the county’s district attorney, ultimately plead guilty to contempt for withholding evidence and received a 10-day jail sentence as well as forfeited his law license.
Based on these facts, explain the rationale you believe Ken Anderson used in withholding the evidence based on either the consensus, conflict, or pluralist paradigm of law. Begin by explaining the paradigm you chose followed by your rationale.
Consensus Paradigm – The idea that most people have similar beliefs, values, and goals and that societal laws reflect the majority view.
In the Consensus Paradigm:
• Law is representative. It is a compilation of the dos and don’ts that we all agree on.
• Law reinforces social cohesion. It emphasizes our “we-ness” by illustrating deviance.
• Law is value-neutral. It resolves conflicts in an objective and natural manner.
Conflict Paradigm – The idea that groups in society have fundamental differences and that those in power control societal elements, including law.
In the Conflict Paradigm:
• Law is repressive.It oppresses the poor and powerless by differential definitions and/or enforcement.
• Law is a tool of the powerful.Those who write the laws do so in a way to promote their economic and political interests.
• Law is not value-neutral. It is biased and bent toward the interests of the powerful.
Pluralist Paradigm – The concept that there re many groups in society and that they form allegiances and coalitions in a dynamic exchange of power.