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AM Update: State Retirement Plans, Assange, Wikileaks and SXSW, Prosecutorial Misconduct

Lawmakers Look at Retirement Plans

Texas lawmakers are scheduled to examine some retirement programs this morning – including the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

The Texas House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services wants to know the viability of the plans as they are now. And they’ll look at what might happen to the retirement plans if they are switched from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans or some combination of the two.

TRS is the largest public retirement system in the state, with more than 1.3 million people are on the plan.

Assange’s Legal Threat to SXSW

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange threatened the South by Southwest festival with legal action if it proceeded with its planned showing of the documentary Wikileaks: Secrets and Liesin 2012. That's according to London’s The Guardian.The Guardian reports that prior to the most recent festival, Assange wrote a letter to South by Southwest organizers warning them if the “libelous program” was shown, he might take legal action against them. SXSW screened the documentary as planned.

The documentary, produced by British company Oxford Film and Television, originally aired in the United Kingdom in November 2011. Following that screening, Assange lodged a complaint about the documentary with British media regulator, Ofcom. He alleged that the film was factually inaccurate and invaded his privacy.   

On Monday, Ofcom released a ruling dismissing Assange’s complaints.  Wikileaks posted a response to the ruling, accusing Ofcom of being “too close to the industry it is meant to be regulating.”

Another Look at Prosecutorial Misconduct

The Texas District and County Attorney Association released a report this week on prosecutorial misconduct in Texas. The TDCAA says the problem is not as bad as has been reported.

In March, the Northern California Innocence Project released data that revealed that prosecutorial misconduct occurred in 91 Texas criminal cases from 2004 to 2008. The report further revealed that none of the prosecutors faced disciplinary action.

In their own report, the TDCAA concludes that prosecutorial misconduct has occurred in only six out of 4.3 million criminal cases prosecuted between 2004 to 2008. The report also states that wrongful convictions most often result from faulty DNA testing and eyewitness statements rather than prosecutorial misconduct.

In one of the most high profile cases of alleged prosecutorial misconduct, former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson will face a court of inquiry in December to determine if he committed misconduct resulting in the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton in 1987.

Morton was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. Last year, Morton’s conviction was overturned when DNA linked another man to the murder. Morton’s attorneys allege that Anderson intentionally withheld information during the trial that could have exonerated Morton. Anderson’s inquiry was originally scheduled to take place Tuesday, but has been postponed.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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