AUSTIN, Texas — A petition was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Troy Mansfield, the man wrongfully convicted of molesting a child 30 years ago, to sue Williamson County for the impact the case has had on his life.
A federal appeals court ruled in March 2022 that Mansfield could not sue Williamson County because of legal questions concerning when prosecutors are obligated to disclose evidence favorable to the defense.
The attempt to sue the County stems from a 1992 incident where Mansfield was accused of inappropriately touching a 4-year-old child who had come over to play with his son. When police told him he had been accused, he denied inappropriate contact and believed the truth would come out.
Prosecutors told Mansfield that he would be imprisoned if the case went to trial. After several attempts from prosecutors, Mansfield accepted a plea deal with 10 years probation. He had to plead guilty and register as a sex offender.
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More than 20 years later, in 2014, Austin attorney Kristin Etter agreed to review his case. Etter believed she could find evidence that would exonerate Mansfield, as had happened in the case of Michael Morton, who was declared innocent after 25 years in prison for his wife's murder. Years after the case, it was found that evidence in favor of Morton had been kept by prosecutors and not shared with Morton and his lawyers.
After multiple months, Etter got the district attorney's case files and found entries from early in the investigation showing prosecutors had doubts about the victim's case.
Then, in 2016, a judge overturned Mansfield's conviction, ruling that prosecutors had violated his constitutional rights by not disclosing favorable evidence. Mansfield was no longer a convicted felon and was taken off the sex offenders list.
Mansfield then tried to sue the County over the wrongful conviction, leading to the petition with Supreme Court to allow his lawsuit against the County. A response to the petition is expected by the end of September.
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