However, for Michael Morton it was the real thing: not only did Mr. Morton endure the murder of his young wife, the mother of his young son: he was arrested, charged, and convicted of that homicide by the State of Texas.
While his son became a man, Morton sat in a cell having been found guilty of the horrific beating death of his wife with a stick of wood. No one believed his story that a stranger had killed her after Morton had left for work. No one listened to the tiny boy explain that it wasn't his dad but a "monster" that hurt his mommy.
There's no air conditioning in Texas prisons, did you know that? Think about spending 25 summers behind bars in a hot Texas summer where temperatures get well over 100 degrees: it's what Mr. Morton did until Houston civil trial lawyer John Railey almost single-handedly proved him to be an innocent man.
Now Michael Morton is free and dedicating his time to spreading the word about wrongful convictions and how easily these things can happen.
If there's not a movie being made of his story, then there should be. Thing is, the story's not over.
Enter the Black Hat.
Anderson went on to run for district judge, and served many years on the Williamson County bench overseeing trials of other citizens. Until the Morton case came back to bite him.
Last week, Judge Louis Sturns - presiding over a special Court of Inquiry ordered by the Texas Supreme Court - issued his ruling in the case. Judge Sturns found that Ken Anderson intentionally hid evidence during that murder trial long ago that would have kept Morton out of jail.
Judge Sturns found a prosecutor intentionally held back evidence and in doing so, allowed an innocent man to go to jail for the murder of his wife, presumably to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Clearly, Ken Anderson didn't lose much sleep over the decisions he made back then; he campaigned for higher office and he's fought against these charges of misconduct. No admissions here, no chagrin, no remorse.
And if I felt any compassion for Judge Anderson, and it's pretty hard to find that right now, it just went out the window as I read today about his appeal of Judge Louis Sturn's ruling.
Get this. Anderson is arguing that the Court of Inquiry has essentially been an albeit interesting waste of time because none of it matters. Anderson's argument? Time bar.
That's right: Ken Anderson is arguing that he's immune from the contempt order (and its accompanying jail time) because the statute of limitations shields him from any punishment.
This shocks me. I understand being terrified of going to jail as a longstanding prosecutor, that's not only humiliating, it's also very dangerous. I get it. I get fighting against that possibility.
However, for someone who has served as prosecutor and district judge for all these many years, I expect some sense of honor and integrity and respect for the system.
Consider by comparison the actions of Travis County's District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, 63, after she was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) earlier this month.
She wrote a letter to the County Attorney and "the Judge of any Court of Jurisdiction," stating in part (read the full letter here):
Please accept this as my Plea of Guilt to the Charge of Driving While Intoxicated, arising from my arrest on 4/12/13, for whatever level of offense is determined to be justified by the facts.
I enter this unconditional Plea without request for delay, without legal argument by counsel, without any plea bargain, and without any request for leniency or consideration of any type.
I am guilty of DWI and of acting unreasonably and the fault is all my own. I am deeply sorry for my actions. I apologize to the citizens of Travis County and specifically to the dedicated officers and employees who had to deal with my violation and any disrespectful conduct after my arrest.
Further, I agree to appear, without delay, to enter this plea and I accept whatever assessment of jail time is deemed appropriate by the sentencing Court.
In addition, I agree to waive any right to consideration of probation and waive any right of appeal of my guilt or my punishment, whatever it may be.Austin's District Attorney did the right thing, in my opinion, and did so with dignity. She has been sentenced to serve 45 days in the local hoosegow for driving drunk, and I expect she'll serve that term honorably, too. Too bad that Ken Anderson isn't cut from the same cloth.