Monday, April 22, 2013

Leach: Pro-life means protecting the innocent accused

Republican state Rep. Jeff Leach from Plano has a column in the Dallas Morning News promoting HB 166 by McLendon, of which he is a joint author, establishing an "exoneration review commission" to examine the causes of wrongful convictions. The column describes the cases of Christopher Scott, Michael Morton and Timothy Cole, then concludes:
I am unashamedly and passionately pro-life. I believe the most basic duty of government is to protect innocent life — from the womb to the tomb — which is why I am as passionate about protecting innocent defendants as I am about protecting the unborn.

This is why I am honored to joint-author HB 166, authored by my friend and colleague Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, which would create a commission of nine members appointed by the governor to investigate wrongful convictions for the purpose of singling out the core causes of exonerations. Named the “Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission,” this nine-member commission would submit its findings to governmental agencies, identify any patterns of prosecutorial misconduct, and propose solutions through legislation or procedural changes, among several other tasks, all at no expense to the taxpayer.

While this legislation is only a small step toward resolving this growing trend, it is a step in the right direction no less, and I am proud of the bipartisan support it has received. We owe it to our citizens to make this right, and the time is ripe for the Legislature to act.
The bill is scheduled for a vote on the House floor tomorrow.

MORE: See an editorial supporting HB 166 from the Dallas News editorial board. AND MORE (4/23): from the Texas Tribune. UPDATE: The bill passed the Texas House April 23rd on second reading with some minor amendments. One more vote to go before it heads to the Senate. NUTHER UPDATE: The bill finally passed on a record vote of 115-28

RELATED: From the Austin Statesman, "Reforms prompted by Morton bill await action by state House."


Anonymous said...

Don't really think any Perry appointees would bring an objective perspective to this commission.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any Perry appointees would be able to bring an objective perspective to this commission.

Anonymous said...

Is this not the bill that your Innocence Project of Texas friend Jeff Blackburn is OPPOSED to?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No 8:56. Blackburn opposed a version of an innocence commission that would undertake independent investigations PRE-exoneration like the commission in North Carolina, mainly because the model hasn't worked to get innocence people out of prison. He argued that the state should fund innocence clinics at the law schools instead. By contrast, in this version the exoneration panel merely evaluates the causes of false convictions after the fact and recommends reforms, it won't itself exonerate anyone. Different situation, different bill.

Anonymous said...

Huh. A consistent Republican? That's a first.


Anonymous said...

Grits- If your granddaughter was raped when she was 15 and she got pregnant, what would you suggest to her?

Do you believe in women's rights?

Do you believe in the morning after pill that kills babies?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that I call that either a conservative or a consistent position. Sounds to me like to good representative is just a RINO. Convicted criminals, especially convicted capital murderers, already are provided way more due process than any unborn baby who might be aborted. If the rep is just anti-death penalty, he needs to say so instead of supporting some backdoor measure to undermine the efficacy of capital punishment in Texas.

Anonymous said...

11:44, I agree - there is certainly no need to waste any more resources making sure the people who are executed are actually guilty.