Saturday, June 20, 2015

Abbott signs bill codifying broad reading of Texas junk science writ

I'm out of town and won't have time to focus on recent veto announcements until later, but I couldn't resist passing along the excellent news that Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 3724 codifying the Court of Criminal Appeals' decision in Ex Parte Robbins, holding that Texas' new junk science writ applies both to bad science and bad scientists.

This now moots the Court of Criminal Appeals' consideration of a motion for rehearing on the case. The new legislation ensures that the ruling from last fall in Robbins, or something essentially similar interpreting the new language, will ultimately prevail. (One imagines Judges Michael Keasler and Larry Meyers had conniption fits upon hearing the news.)

At one point, the bill sponsors were being told the governor's staff recommended a veto on the bill, so this ends a tense period that actually cost your correspondent considerable sleep in the last three weeks. It'd be interesting to know the backstory as to how that recommendation was overruled, but at this point that's trivia. The bill is law. The whys no longer matter. They got it right in the end.

Many thanks to Chairmen Abel Herrero and John Whitmire for their diligent leadership on this. And special thanks should also go to staffers Amanda Woog and Terra Tucker, and to Amanda Marzullo from the Texas Defender Service, who worked as hard as anyone to pass the bill. I'm surely forgetting others -  many people lent a hand when they were asked and I won't name them all here - but Grits is immensely grateful to everybody who helped out.

For me, this completes a process begun seven years ago when the original statute was first conceived, and it's been a remarkable roller coaster ride since then. Going forward, the statute will allow defendants to challenge false convictions whenever they relied on either bad science or a bad scientist at trial. And given the revelations in recent years regarding high error rates and a lack of scientific grounding regarding numerous forensic fields, the implications of the legislation may become even more significant over time than they seem today.

What terrific news! Congratulations and many thanks to everyone who helped make this possible, including to Gov. Abbott for signing the thing.


ChangeisComing said...

I'm trying to contact you about a case in Texas where a man was sentenced to 45 years and you won't believe why. I don't know how else to contact you hope to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

Grits is out of town. Try this email but realize that Grits & Co. can't consider assisting until the man exhausts all direct appeals. Damn the Rule (#5) not the man.


Anonymous said...

ChangeisComing wont it be easier to share the case info with the public? A lot of great lawyers read this blog. Just saying!!

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Congrats to all involved and that includes the: rogue DAs, ADAs and Labs, for had it not been for their role in the Team Effort to convict based on bullcrap, we wouldn't need folks like Whitmire & Herrero to step up to the plate. Good men, doing good things should be celebrated.

Despite this bill turned law favoring the few (minority?) yet, still wronged, at this pace, we should see a pair being grown by some brave politician(s) this century resulting in another bill aimed at - 'Junk'-Pleas.


Thomas R. Griffith said...

Speaking of 'Junk'-Pleas.
Since no politician (to date) has addressed eliminating ‘Junk’-Pleas, if anyone wishes to assist in creating such a bill, one that eliminates the possibility of changing or switching or trading of initial 'pleas' from not guilty to nolo contendere / no contest (aka: guilty) 'after' the Defense files its very first Ready-for-Trial notice, please feel free to create and submit.

Speaking as a victim of Texas’ 'Junk'-Plea syndrome, as it is currently formatted, taxpayers pay into a fund that pays juries to participate all the way to lunch recess in the majority of cases. With everyone including the jurors themselves knowing perfectly well they will be thanked for their service and receive a check for warming a crapload of chairs. For decades, the majority of the CDLs of Texas have been allowed to aligned themselves with the majority of the DAs of Texas agreeing to Plea away cases where guilt and/or innocence is no longer an issue. Excusing their own actions via: the sky would fall due to crowded dockets and an ultimate system crash. When the Defense (paid, assigned, appointed) all refuses to defend all the way to verdict, they knowingly & willingly allow their clients to waive rights to appeal, as they shred client cases files and move on to the next victim of the rigged system. The rigging affects the majority of the wronged seeking post conviction assistance considerations from the IPTX and that's a wrong hopefully, they are working on. Sadly, plea bargaining also allows the TBoP&P (Clemency Section) to Deny Full Pardon Applications based on one convicting him/her self.

You didn't learn this from me just then, you were simply reminded of the Real main cause of the majority of false arrests that subsequently result in the majority of wrongful convictions. Trying to blame the crime victims for submitting erroneous descriptions of suspects is and has always been considered bullshit, especially when we have Detectives being paid to Detect and Vett, in addition to the Defense's responsibility to investigate 'prior' to Defending. There is no way in hell that everyone is ‘not’ guilty, but when someone answers that they are 'not' guilty and wishes to take it to a jury trial, they should 'not' be able to change their plea and dang sure shouldn't be advised to take the plea from the very one charged with Defending them.

When it takes a Team Effort to rig a system and do wrong in order for everyone to notch out a ‘win’ on the brief cases, it shouldn't surprise one to learn that it will take a Team Effort to right the wrongs imposed on the losers’ that were advised to TapOut, ‘not’ allowing the juries to do their duties, all the way to a verdict. If they provide a wrongful verdict, the wronged will be eligible for: $80K per year, plus, plus ('if' they survive the long ride). The Defense Team need only to put it on the record and in their client case files that the client refused to accept any & all plea offers and wishes to remain Not Guilty (Innocent) and have the client sign off on it, with the client receiving a copy.