Ware, a former assistant district attorney in the Dallas County DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit, said it was “a roller-coaster ride” as he watched his three clients walk out of prison on Nov. 18.
“Except for the anxiety and waiting and frustration, it was wonderful,” said Ware, now a Fort Worth criminal-defense solo. “It was very emotional and very satisfying to finally be able to walk out with them.”
Ware represents the “San Antonio Four,” women who maintained their innocence after being convicted of assaulting two young girls. This week, Ware won habeas relief from a state district court for Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera and Kristie Mayhugh. The fourth woman, Anna Vasquez, was already out on parole.
Ware used a 2011 law to argue for habeas relief because the women's convictions were based on bad science. An expert in their 1997 and 1998 trials testified that she found physical evidence confirming the girls were sexually assaulted. Ware said that modern science shows the finding is “completely erroneous.” He said the evidence and testimony “was extremely harmful” and “tainted the entire trial process.”
He sees similarities in his work as a prosecutor and defense lawyer.
As a prosecutor reviewing convictions, he said, “I was only after the truth: Let the truth lead me wherever it did. Sometimes it lead to an exoneration; sometimes it didn’t.”
Even though he clearly wants to exonerate his four clients, he said his goal is “one and the same” now as it was when he was in the DA's office.
“I’m not going to take on a huge legal undertaking pro bono unless there is a cause involved. In this case, the cause is the truth: the horrible injustice that was done to these women, who were incarcerated on charges that were preposterous from the beginning,” said Ware.
Editor's note: This blog has been corrected to accurately reflect Cassandra Rivera's name.