Thursday, June 11, 2009

Governor should add eyewitness ID, not voter ID, to special session call

Governor Perry finally admitted this week that a special session would be necessary to keep agencies open whose Sunset bills didn't pass, though he didn't say when he would call it.

Whenever he brings them back - whether this summer or next spring after the GOP primary in March - if the Governor decides to expand the "call" for the special session beyond keeping the Sunsetted agencies alive (they can only bring up legislation for consideration with his pre-approval), the first item on the list should be eyewitness ID, not voter ID, as some have suggested.

The second should be authorizing a constitutional amendment to allow the Governor to grant posthumous pardons, such as in the ignominious case of Timothy Cole - an issue of high priority, in particular, to Cole's family.

The Court of Criminal Appeals' Criminal Justice Integrity Unit recommended making improved photo ID procedures the Legislature's highest priority for preventing false convictions, but legislation to do so died in the carnage surrounding the "chubbing" to death of hundreds of bills in the voter ID fight.

I don't care a whit about the voter ID debate, mainly because there's no evidence the type of voter fraud it's supposed to prevent is happening on any significant scale. (Mail ballots are a more frequent source of real-world voter fraud.) By contrast, Texas has witnessed 40 men exonerated by DNA evidence, 80% of whom were falsely accused by eyewitness testimony, including Timothy Cole.

Since we know DNA evidence doesn't exist in 90% of violent crimes and most jurisdictions (besides Dallas) didn't save old DNA to test, it's pretty certain these 40 are really the tip of the iceberg regarding the number of actually innocent people sitting in Texas prisons. There's a lot more tangible evidence that flawed or nonexistent eyewitness ID policies are creating significant problems than there is supporting allegations of voter fraud that caused the session to melt down.

The 81st Texas Legislature didn't have to turn into a train wreck; that was an unfortunate, bipartisan choice. Now the Governor has a chance to right the ship by putting things that matter on the agenda for a special session, starting with reforming eyewitness ID procedures.

10 comments:

Informed Citizen said...

A 'Pardon' is NOT an 'Exoneration'.
Isn't it interesting that the "Timonthy Cole Act" does not provide for his family to have compensation for the wrongful conviction he suffered.
The Act requires exoneration "on the basis of actual innocence" or a pardon. Judge Baird found Timothy Cole "innocent". But made no distinction between "innocenct" and "Actual Innocence". Per Decisional Law of our US and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals - there is NO distinction between "innocent" and "actual innocence"; but "actual innocence" is referred to when the burden is on the defendant, in a post-conviction proceeding, to prove their "innocence".
According to a holding by the 3rd Court of Appeals in 2008, authored by Abbott Friend and Perry Appointee Robert Pemberton, our legislators intended to deprive the people of Texas of their Right secured in our Texas Constitution unless their innocence was established on Petition for Writ of Habeaus Corpus. Impossible in Cole's case. So, too, is a pardon because Cole recieved relief from the conviction so there is nothing to pardon. There is no offense to forgive.
In other words; the act named FOR Timothy Cole by the SAME act makes payment of compensation from the Public Treasury an illegal act !!!
===============================
This is the PRACTICE of Law on our Land of Texas. A guilty person who gets a pardon for their offense by the Governor gets compensation but a person who is granted relief on the basis of actual innocence, cannot recover their property damages or compensation for their injuries unless it they cannot prove their innocence until their only potential means for doing so is a writ of habeas corpus for a review that is, otherwise, barred by Constitution or Statutory Law. Lets call it "Pemberton Logic".

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Isn't it interesting that the "Timonthy Cole Act" does not provide for his family to have compensation for the wrongful conviction he suffered."

That WOULD be interesting, Un-Informed, if it weren't completely false. You're relying n a ruling specific to your own unique case, but the Cole case has different facts. The bill was written specifically to provide compensation in Tim Cole's case and future ones like it - don't stir up sh%& for no reason.

Whatever your views about the merits of a posthumous pardon (which is difficult to discern - you're arguing out of both sides of your mouth here), Cole's family and particularly his mother want it and your hair splititng seems insufficient reason, to me, to deny her, particularly since posthumous pardons happen at the federal level and in other states with little negative consequence.

Anonymous said...

We need to verify votes. The illegals, ACORn, ACLU and other criminal activities try to steal our legal votes.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 11:58, illegals, ACORN, and the ACLU all fly around together in black helicopters spying on real Americans trying to steal their votes! OMG! You meant that as parody, right?

Grits you keep some strange company, son.

Adrienne A Dunn said...

As an example of what the eyewitness ID law would look like, look to the work done in North Carolina. http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/550.php

Just like in TX, NC legislation came about from exoneration cases based on eyewitness ID.

Anonymous said...

Not gonna happen, Grits. The Innocence Commission bill will be vetoed. No call for the other bills. Mark it down.

Anonymous said...

11:58, you've been snookered by Limbaugh and Malkin into voting based on ignorance and lies.

If a person fills out a voter application, it has to be turned in as a matter of law. Even if they've been filled out with obviously false names. ACORN turned them in as required by law, and actually notified authorities of the ones that they believed to be fraudulent.

Get a clue.

Anonymous said...

You are probably one of those idiots that voted Obama for change. Look at the change now....our country like the Fascists....and ACORN folks helped do it to us. Wake up.

Boyness said...

Grits for Breakfast

"Governor should add eyewitness ID, not voter ID, to special session call"

Y E S----
He should Grit's but he wont. Rick Perry doesn't care about eyewitness identification anymore than John Whitmire or any of the other liars who told us they "will get this right" and PROMISED to do something about wrongful convictions.

Texans don't care enough to rally at the statehouse or even to demand changes from those in power. We are still Texecuting death row inmates as fast as we can and are STILL using the same procedures or non-procedures to pick people out of line-ups despite the FACT that of 40 DNA exonerations, the majority of witnesses picked THE WRONG PERSON.

Until Texans start to care, our leaders aren't going to care. All these people care about is getting re-elected and in this RED state, law and order carries the day even when it's wrong!

Informed Citizen said...

Grits - You obviously KNOW that Timothy Cole, and his family, is not entitled to compensation under the Timothy Cole act, as currently 'interpreted' by the Judicial Division of THE STATE OF TEXAS, or you would not be asking for a pardon for Timothy Cole.

As for your other ad hominem comments.

The relevant portions of the Statute that were not changed by the Timonthy Cole act were interpreted / constructed in the case of Marion Young (NOT the case of the Exec Dir of Informed Citizens). The link is provided below. Relevant portion of the holding is pasted here:

The central issue in this appeal requires us to construe the phrase "has obtained relief on the basis of actual innocence"

We conclude that it does not include such claimants, but instead manifests the legislature's intent to limit chapter 103's waiver solely to claimants who have obtained habeas corpus relief based on "actual innocence."


http://www.3rdcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/HTMLOpinion.asp?OpinionID=17071

As for the case of the Exec Dir of Informed Citizens, the only issue subject to adjudication was the question of the amount of compensation. No Court had jurisdiction to adjudicate any other question as they had already been adjudicated to final determination, not subject to review or reversal.

Our Texas Constitution mandates Judicial Officials be impartial. It mandates Juries be impartial. Some are opposed to our Texas Constitution. They are "partial" (biased and prejudiced), and will support the "partial", and therefore illegal, acts of Judges and Juries as long as they are consistent with their own personal bias.

This is contrary to LIBERTY and JUSTICE. LIBERTY and JUSTICE cannot exist without EQUAL protection of the Law (impartial Judicial Officials and Juries). It is an ignorant position because the person that insists upon depriving others of Equal Protection of the Law / Liberty & Justice may find their own self subject to the bias and prejudice of others.

Grits, you should put aside your own personal bias and prejudice. Or at least work with those you do not like (for whatever reason) if they are in battle against a common enemy.