Sunday, August 10, 2014

Governor may boost forensic reviews with grants

At a panel on Friday concluding a continuing legal education seminar sponsored by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Gov. Rick Perry's new general counsel, Mary Ann Wiley, said that before the next legislative session the governor's office plans to issue grants to assist processing cases involving potentially large-scale forensic errors, like the Forensic Science Commission's ongoing hair and fiber analysis or the arson review undertaken by the state fire marshal.

That's welcome news; those reviews have been rather ad hoc and funding will not only deploy more resources but help supply structure and, God forbid, maybe even greater accountability. It would also better position the state to implement the sort of rapid response to forensic errors suggested in last year's "white paper" from the Forensic Science Commission and the Court of Criminal Appeals' Criminal Justice Integrity Unit.

For Perry, this move doubles down on his recent self-positioning as a moderate reformer on criminal justice headed into the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

Wiley also predicted that episodes of forensic error will continue to arise and reiterated her recent suggestion that the Legislature create an office of forensic writ counsel similar to the Office of Capital Writs to provide counsel in cases like the hair and fiber review or the Jonathan Salvador fiasco. She said the idea has gotten as far as discussions with a potential legislative sponsor, so expect some action on this when the 84th Legislature meets next year.


Anonymous said...

I was at the two-day seminar in Austin, and it was refreshing to see cooperation among some high-level governmental officials regarding protecting those who were proven to be actually innocent of crime. It's remarkable it has taken years and dozens of cases demonstrating the fact innocent people are being convicted to get such cooperation. One would think everyone would be on the bandwagon to prevent innocent people from being punished for non-crimes or crimes they didn't commit.

Conspicuously absent from the panel were cops, prosecutors, and trial judges. That triad seems to be behind the curve on this topic and in most need of an attitude adjustment. If we are serious about keeping innocent people out of prison (or being tried and convicted in the first place), we must end bad practices by police, overzealousness by prosecutors, and prosecutors in robes on the bench.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Yo Anny, good eye. That's what happens when cliques have Cherry-Picking-for-Justice Parties. They don't tend to invite anyone that would throw rocks. It would have been awesome to learn that you asked them why they all weren't invited.

*If Mrs. Wiley visits this GFB posting and just happens to read the comments, this one is for you maam.

Yes, the magic show indicates that the Governor's Office has an interest in throwing money (taxpayer's funds) at the state sponsored corruption relating to large scale wrongs based on forensics errors. Some will want us to take that as doing something is better than doing nothing, while the rest of us will wonder why you all failed to address the mass plea bargain scandal that makes forensic errors look like childs play as it fills up jails and prisons.

There's no way in hell that the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association will address this due to them being directly responsible for participating in the Plea Bargain Games. To call or, refer to one's self as a Defense Lawyer that actively avoids defending clients is a goddamn joke. There's no way in hell everyone claiming innocence is actually innocent, for that, you must prove it and that should be left up to allowing juries to see all of the evidence or, there's no need to play jury games that end with them being released at lunch recess. Now, you know why folks don't want to be part of a rigged system and refuse to sit on juries with excuses.

The Texas TapOut is wrong when utilized simply for being on probation at time of arrest on a new unrelated charge. To sit by for decades and allow lawyers to advise clients to "take the plea, despite a guilty or, not verdict you are going to prison for being on probation that was revoked at the time of arrest" is not only deceitful legal advise, it's flat out wrong and begs to be addressed during the 84th.

I'm not telling you anything that you are not already aware of, I'm simply telling you that the world is watching Texas side-step the Constitution (Bill of Rights) on a daily basis. The money thrown at the recipients of this grant lotto, will fatten their banks while ignoring the fatter elephants in the court rooms. It looks good for campaigns but makes you look crooked if you fail to address the real problem regarding a Rigged System.

There's still time for the TDCA Association and those that bring them cases to consider doing what you all are failing to (the right thing) but that ain't happening and we all know it. Until then, those that know it's rigged but still place bets are criminals in suits and ties with degrees hanging on walls not worth the card stock printed on.

Those that refuse to plea out clients and let the evidence speak for itself in a jury trial to verdict are heroes, we just don't know their names yet.

Yes, thanks for something that affects only a percentage of those of us wronged by a Bad Tech or, two but that ain't gonna cut it when thousands of folks can prove gross errors in their cases were ignored simply because they are devoid of DNA or, Drugs and faked out to take the plea. Wrong is wrong, no matter how often we hear it is the enemy of good to speak against it. Have a good day.