Smell a rat

To recognize that something is not as it appears to be or that something dishonest is happening:

He’s been working late with her every night this week – I smell a rat!

Cambridge Dictionary

In British English
to detect something suspicious

In American English
to suspect a trick, plot, etc.


To believe something is wrong:

When I got an e-mail asking for my password, I should have smelled a rat.


Wrongly imprisoned

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The expression “smell a rat” is an idiomatic phrase that typically means to suspect that something is wrong or suspicious, usually with regards to a particular situation or person. The key points of the expression include:

  1. Suspicion: The phrase conveys a sense of suspicion or doubt about a situation or person. It suggests that the speaker has detected something that seems out of place or unusual.

  2. Intuition: The phrase often implies that the suspicion is based on intuition or a gut feeling, rather than concrete evidence. It suggests that the speaker has picked up on subtle cues or signs that something may not be right.

  3. Alertness: The phrase indicates a sense of vigilance or alertness, as if the speaker is actively paying attention to their surroundings and is quick to notice any potential signs of deceit or deception.

  4. Skepticism: The phrase suggests a healthy skepticism and a willingness to question things that may not seem genuine or truthful.

  5. Caution: The phrase can also imply a sense of caution or wariness, as the speaker may be hesitant to fully trust or believe in the situation or person in question until their suspicions are addressed or clarified.

Overall, “smell a rat” indicates a sense of suspicion, intuition, alertness, skepticism, and caution when something seems suspicious or not quite right. It is often used informally in everyday conversations to express doubt or suspicion about a particular situation or person.

Getting Life:
An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace | Biography and Memoir

On August 13, 1986, just one day after his thirty-second birthday, Michael Morton went to work at his usual time.
By the end of the day, his wife Christine had been savagely bludgeoned to death in the couple’s bed-and the Williamson County Sherriff’s office in Texas wasted no time in pinning her murder on Michael, despite an absolute lack of physical evidence.

Michael was swiftly sentenced to life in prison for a crime he had not committed. Drawing on twenty-five years of recollections, court transcripts, and more than one thousand pages of personal journals he wrote in prison, Michael recounts 

the hidden police reports about an unidentified van parked near his house that were never pursued;
the treasure trove of evidence, including a bandana with the killer’s DNA on it, that was never introduced in court;
the call from a neighboring county reporting the attempted use of his wife’s credit card that was given to local police; and, ultimately, how Michael battled his way through the darkness to become a free man once again.

Michael Morton
An Innocent Man’s 25-year Journey from Prison to Peace

Micheal Morton’s Website

1 I Was Wrongfully Imprisoned for Killing My Wife | Michael Morton | Google Zeitgeist

16 sep. 2014

Michael Morton was wrongly imprisoned, charged with the murder of his wife. With the help of the Innocence Project and newly discovered DNA evidence, he was released – but only after serving 25 years in jail. He discusses what he’s been through and how he is campaigning to ensure this does not happen to others, now that he is free.
At minute 10: “And my attorneys always smelled a rat in the case, but they didn’t know what the rat was.”

in British English
to detect something suspicious

in American English
to suspect a trick, plot, etc.

At minute 12:

2 John Bradley’s handling of Morton case questioned

6 okt. 2011

Michael Morton’s case is now raising questions about Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, who opposed the testing of a bloody bandanna found near where Christine Morton was killed — now found to have DNA that is not that of Michael Morton, but a third person’s.

3 Michael Morton reacts to exoneration

19 dec. 2011

Judge Sid Harle, upon the written motion of District Attorney John Bradley, dismissed the charges that go back to 1987 when Morton was wrongfully convicted in the death of his wife, Christine Morton, whose body was found in their home on Aug. 13, 1986.

4 Michael Morton: If you want to be forgiven you must forgive

Back to menu         IMPORTANT CONTANT    Listening recommended

5 dec. 2013

CNN’s Chris Cuomo speaks with Michael Morton, the man who was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife.

5 An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story

21 nov. 2013

He was locked up for 25 years for a murder he didn’t commit. Watch An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story, Thursday, December 5, at 9 p.m. ET

6 SXSW (2013) – An Unreal Dream Trailer #1 – Documentary HD

27 feb. 2013

Movieclips Indie

SXSW (2013) – An Unreal Dream Trailer #1 – Documentary HD

Check out the SXSW Playlist:

No case in modern America illuminates this condition more completely than the story of Michael Morton. in 1986 his young wife was brutally murdered in front of their only child, and he was accused and convicted of the crime, spending a quarter century in Texas prisons. His unreal dream was and is a powerful journey through despair and abandonment to a greater freedom than most of us know, but all can appreciate.

8 Michael Morton: The TT interview

Back to menu          IMPORTANT CONTENT

7 feb. 2013

On Wednesday, Michael Morton sat down with the Tribune to talk about the pain and anger the court of inquiry for Ken Anderson is bringing up for him and his hopes for accountability in the wake of his wrongful conviction.

9 DNA links jailed suspect to Morton – 6 pm News

10 nov. 2011

Just five weeks after Michael Morton was released from prison on a false charge of killing his wife, police on Wednesday arrested a Bastrop man on a charge of capital murder in the 1986 killing in Williamson County of Christine Morton.

25 years falsely imprisoned for murdering his wife… 
A poverful story of pain, injustice, redemption,
and reconciliation.”


Al Reinert:

Kent Schaffer
Marcy Garriott
Al Reinert:
Chris Mattsson
Jesse Lyda
Jason Wehling
John Aldrich
John Dean
Jim Embree
Nellie Gonzalez
J. Stephen Martin
Beverly Reeves
Clark Lyda
John Dean
Nellie Gonzalez
John Aldrich
Nellie Gonzalez

Al Reinert:
John Dean
Nellie Gonzalez
John Dean
Nellie Gonzalez
Nellie Gonzalez

Jason Wehling
John Aldrich
John Aldrich

Levie Isaacks:

Chuck Pinnell
Rich Brotherton.

10 Michael Morton and the justice system – 6 pm News

28 mrt. 2012

He’s been a free man for 6 months – after 25 years in prison accused of killing his wife. But DNA testing set Michael Morton free – and proved he was indeed “innocent” as he held to all along.

11 Innocent man: There were years I plotted revenge

4 dec. 2013

Michael Morton and his attorney talk about the case that landed him in jail for 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit.

12 Morton to be released from prison

Michael Morton will appear on Tuesday in Williamson County Court and officially released after Monday’s decision by Judge Sid Harle that new DNA evidence presented clears him of his wife’s murder in 1986.

13 Judge named to oversee Anderson inquiry

17 feb. 2012

Judge named to oversee Anderson inquiry

14 Anderson admits Morton was innocent

17 nov. 2011

Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson on Wednesday admitted that Michael Morton was innocent and he apologized to the man who spent 25 years behind bars on a false conviction.

15 John Bradley testifies in Anderson case

8 feb. 2013

The prosecution rested its case Thursday afternoon in the inquiry into District Judge Ken Anderson

16 Ken Anderson on Michael Morton Conviction

16 nov. 2011

Judge and former prosecutor Ken Anderson talks about the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton.

17 State Bar of Texas Files Civil Suit Against Judge Ken Anderson

19 okt. 2012

A civil lawsuit against Anderson filed in Williamson County this month by the State Bar of Texas says the former prosecutor- and current District Judge- did hide evidence in the Morton case.

18 Judge Anderson resigns amid controversy

25 sep. 2013

Embattled state District Judge Ken Anderson resigned his post on Tuesday after almost two years of controversy stemming from his role as Williamson County district attorney more than 25 years ago.

19 Benefits of the Michael Morton Act

20 Ex Prosecutor Ken Anderson jailed 3 days for misconduct in sending innocent man to 25 yrs in prison

16 nov. 2013

Ex-prosecutor Ken Anderson was sentenced to only 10 days in jail but with credit only served at total of 3 days in jail. Anderson was let out of jail Friday. Anderson, the former prosecutor and county judge was sentenced to jail time for lying and withholding evidence of Michael Morton’s innocence. As a result, Morton was wrongfully convicted and served 25 years in prison.
The plea deal also requires Anderson to complete 500 hours of community service, be disbarred and fined $500. Williamson County Sheriff’s Office said since Anderson was in jail for only a misdemeanor he will get a credit of two days for every one day served, and he was kept separate from other inmates because of security concerns.

21 Evidence of Innocence: The case of Michael Morton

26 mrt. 2012

After nearly 25 years in prison, Michael Morton was exonerated by a DNA test. Did a prosecutor hide evidence that could have proven Morton’s innocence during his 1987 trial?
At minute 2:45: the procecutor

22 Michael Morton: Life after prison

Back to menu      IMPORTANT CONTENT

28 mrt. 2012

Michael Morton: Life after prison

25 Michael Morton Interview – Part I

Back to menu            IMPORTANT CONTENT

22 apr. 2014

In 1987, Michael Morton was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. Twenty-five years later and exonerated of the crime, Morton reflects on his life

26 Michael Morton Interview Part II

18 aug. 2018

In 1987, Michael Morton was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. Twenty-five years later and exonerated of the crime, Morton reflects on his life.

27 Evening With Michael Morton and Barry Scheck

Back to menu IMPORTANT CONTENT: Please enjoy Emotional  minute 34

1 okt. 2014

Michael Morton, author of “Getting Life,” and Barry Scheck, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, share Morton’s remarkable story of tragedy, injustice, and forgiveness with Friends members at the LBJ Presidential Library on September 30, 2014. Morton was exonerated on October 4, 2011 after spending nearly 25 years in a Williamson County prison after being wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife.

28 Juror who convicted Morton feels guilty

5 okt. 2011

For years, a retired Round Rock teacher believed that sending Michael Morton to prison for life was the right decision, until she learned about a stack of evidence that never made it to the trial.

29 Michael Morton Freed in Texas

6 okt. 2011

Innocence Project client Michael Morton was freed on October 4, 2011, in Georgtown, Texas, after serving nearly 25 years in prison for a murder DNA shows he didn’t commit. More information is available here:

30 Truck Tears Off Car Door

7 mrt. 2019

When helping out a senior citizen leads to an unfortunate accident. How would you react?
Filmed in Montreal, Quebec Welcome to the world-famous Just for Laughs Gags channel, where we pull public pranks on unsuspecting Montreal residents and tourists.

Wrongly imprisoned

Current Page

An Unreal Dream

Pitfalls of Justice

Tough Questions

A Toxic Culture