News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Daniel Wade Moore ruling defines Judge Thompson

Some judges have distinguished careers and never make it onto the radar screen of public opinion.

Then there is Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson who may have notched his place in history last week when he freed Daniel Wade Moore based on the prosecutor's misconduct. The state appealed the judge's decision to drop the charges, a decision he based on the constitutional safeguard against double jeopardy. Mr. Moore is now back in Morgan Country Jail after a weekend of freedom.

That occurred Monday when the state Court of Criminal Appeals said it wanted more time to think about and study the case before final disposition takes place.

A higher court could reverse Judge Thompson's order on legal grounds, but he will still have raised public interest about the conduct of courts.

"When the lack of fairness is intentionally caused by government's overreaching and misconduct, the defendant is entitled to the protections of the constitutions of the United States and the state of Alabama ..." he wrote in his order that freed the man found guilty, and whom he sentenced to death, in the Karen Tipton murder case.

The judge had ordered the prosecution to share with defense attorneys information Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska denied having as the trial date neared in 2002.

The judge later, in first overturning the sentence, speculated the disputed information, which included an FBI report, might have had data that would clear the suspect.

Even if the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals overturns the ruling to set the defendant free, Judge Thompson showed remarkable concern for the rights of defendants. He felt the trial wasn't fair, or not fair to the degree that its conduct may have affected the outcome.

Let's hope Judge Thompson's actions set a higher ethical standard for prosecutors. The courts must not only be fair, they must have the perception of fairness.

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