Monday, February 23, 2009

CCA Integrity Unit: Eyewitness ID legislation should be highest innocence priority

With all the recent bad publicity surrounding the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and its presiding judge, it's nice to find cause to mention them in a positive light, merited in this case by the release of a new report by the CCA's Criminal Justice Integrity Unit dubbed its 2008 Annual Report of Activities.

The document was distributed to an email list of people who signed up at their meetings and is not available on the court's web site, I'm told by Judge Hervey's clerk, so I guess that makes its publication a Grits web exclusive. :)

I may later go into other aspects of the report when I have more time, but for now wanted to point out what I considered the money quote from the whole document:
TCJIU recognizes that one of the leading causes of false convictions is erroneous eyewitness identifications. TCJIU urges the legislature to address this issue during this session of the legislature. It is the position of the TCJIU that instituting reforms in the eyewitness identification procedures used by law enforcement agencies throughout Texas should have the highest priority of any efforts in the area of wrongful convictions.
Though the document doesn't refer to specific legislation, the recommendation for making eyewitness ID reform the "highest priority" among innocence bills certainly bodes well for Senator Rodney Ellis' SB 117, which is the main, comprehensive eyewitness reform legislation proposed in the 81st legislative session. Their other policy recommendations were to install more rigorous oversight of forensic labs and "improving the reliability of confessions," possibly including a requirement for "recording the full interrogation, from the Miranda warning onward."

These are all very positive, commendable proposals, so I wonder why the CCA didn't post this document online? You'd think they'd want to promote it a little more with all the bad PR they're been getting lately.

1 comment:

R.J. MacReady said...

Thank you for posting that. You're right. It is inexplicable that they wouldn't want to advertise this more. And thanks for the link!