"MISCONDUCT? Lawyer’s conduct in death-penalty case disputed," is by Frank Green in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Here's an extended excerpt from the beginning of this detailed article:
Did the man who prosecuted Earl Washington Jr. for rape and murder lie to save a death sentence that was slipping away, as Washington’s lawyers allege?
Washington, exonerated in 2000, came within nine days of execution in 1985 and is the only person sentenced to death in Virginia who was later proved to be innocent.
A complaint to the Virginia State Bar charged that, as Washington’s guilt first came under doubt, John C. Bennett, a former Culpeper commonwealth’s attorney, lied to the Virginia Attorney General’s Office in an effort to preserve Washington’s death sentence.
According to an assistant attorney general who wrote a memo and a newspaper reporter, Bennett told them he had witnessed Washington’s disputed 1983 confession. Bennett wasn’t even in the same county when the confession happened.
The previously undisclosed bar complaint against Bennett — and the confidential 2009 bar ruling dismissing it — were made available last week to the Richmond Times-Dispatch by one of Washington’s lawyers.
The bar subcommittee report concluded, after a full investigation, that “the evidence available could not reasonably be expected to support any allegation of misconduct under a ‘clear and convincing’ evidentiary standard.”
Bennett, who was the Culpeper commonwealth’s attorney until 1991 and is now in private practice, did not return several calls for comment last week, nor did he respond to a letter from The Times-Dispatch requesting comment on the same matter in 2006.
You can read more about Earl Washington's wrongful conviction and exoneration at the National Registry of Exonerations.