Whitmire files habeas fix on false scientific testimony
The Texas Tribune reported that Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitimire filed legislation today to expand access to habeas corpus relief for defendants convicted based on false and discredited scientific testimony, a bill that's a legislative priority of my employers at the Innocence Project of Texas. This was the chairman's first bill filed this session, FWIW, and since the Senate voted for an essentially similar bill in 2009 (it cleared the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and Calendars but died a silent death during all the Voter ID chubbing), one hopes it will move quickly through the process this time around. Several recent, divided Court of Criminal Appeals cases, described in part by Mr. Chammah's Trib story, make this issue ripe for legislative resolution. More on this bill later.
Travis County may try "managed assigned counsel"
Under this model, first piloted in Lubbock, an independent entity operates the "wheel" that chooses counsel to assign instead of local judges. Read Jordan Smith's coverage and see a draft (pdf) of the proposal on the table. Not my preferred way, but it's better than what Houston does.
Will Texas ban drone surveillance of private property?
Perhaps, if sophomore Rep. Lance Gooden and Sen. John Whitmire have their way, reported the Texas Tribune. Here's the bill.
Why police officers lie under oath
In case you wondered.
Last rewrite of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure never got off ground
In the comments to a recent Grits post highlighting the House Special Commitee to rewrite the Code of Criminal Procedure, Texas prosecutor association lobbyist Shannon Edmonds pointed out that a blue ribbon panel was created during the George Bush governorship to rewrite the Code of Crimnal Procecure in the '90s, elaborating further on the TDCAA site. Wrote Edmonds:
It remains to be seen whether this effort gets farther than the last attempt to re-write the CCP back in the mid-1990s when Governor Bush’s office formed a blue-ribbon panel of judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and professors to tackle the job. That effort died for lack of interest among legislators. (For a copy of that bill, which was never heard in committee, check out SB 1608 by Whitmire (75th R.S., 1997).) The lucky House members tasked with the job this time around are: Debbie Riddle (R-Houston), chair; Stefani Carter (R-Dallas), Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), Joe Moody (D-El Paso), and Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound). Beyond that, we don’t know much more at this time. Consistent with the comment we made a few weeks ago, neither TDCAA nor any prosecutors were consulted before this project was launched, but I have a feeling we’ll be taking a great interest in this two-year experiment. Won’t that be FUN?!?Does prison teach people to be better criminals?
So suggests a study which found that "Spending time in prison leads to increased criminal earnings. ... On average, a person can make roughly $11,000 more [illegally] from spending time in prison versus a person who does not spend time in prison."