Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Criminal discovery bill to be heard in Civil Jurisprudence Committee Monday

I find it interesting that Sen. Rodney Ellis' SB 1611 - now a one-sided open-file bill for Texas prosecutors instead of a reciprocal discovery bill as originally filed - has been referred to the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee and scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, April 29th. One might have expected the bill to be referred to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, since that's where criminal discovery bills filed in the House with identical captions were sent.

This is the second bill I've noticed where similar or identical legislation from the Senate was sent to another committee than House Criminal Jurisprudence which heard the issue the first time. (This is the other.) Speaker of the House Joe Straus makes those calls. It's curious that the committee hearing the discovery bill most likely to pass isn't the one that's been considering the issue for the last month. Hard to know whether to read anything into that or not.

ALSO: The Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on May 1 will hold a public hearing on the fertilizer plant explosion in West, which I suppose makes some sense but is a change of pace from the topics they usually cover.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Grits.

*For the historical record -

Witness List –
Senate Committee Report
Criminal Justice
March 26, 2013 - 1:30 PM or upon adjournment

Cummings, Patricia Attorney (Michael Morton), Round Rock, TX
Escamilla, David County Attorney (Travis County Attorneys Office), Austin, TX
Heaty, Staley District Attorney (46th Judicial District Attorney), Vernon, TX
Herberg, Cliff 1st Assistant District Attorney (Bexar County District Attorney's Office),
San Antonio, TX
Kase, Kathryn Executive Director (Texas Defender Service), Houston, TX
Peterson, Martin Assistant District Attorney (Self) , Hurst, TX
Ratliff, Thomas Consultant (Michael Morton), Austin, TX
Sims, Randall C. 47th District Attorney (47th District Attorney's Office), Amarillo, TX
Vitris, Michael Legal Fellow (Texas Appleseed), Austin, TX

Couch, Sharon Crime Victim Coordinator (Self) , Angleton, TX
Yenne, Jeri Brazoria County Criminal District Attorney (Brazoria County District
Attorney), Angleton, TX

Hervey, Barbara Judge (Texas Court of Criminal Appeals), Austin, TX
Registering, but not testifying:

Dodson, John P. Uvalde County Attorney (Uvalde County Attorney), Uvalde, TX
Forth, Kay Legislative Liaison (American Civil Liberties Union), Austin, TX
Hughes, Lori Trial Divis. Chief (Jamie Esparza- District Attorney- 34th Judicial District),
El Paso, TX
Lowe, Doug (Anderson County Criminal District Attorney), Palestine, TX
Marsh, Andrea Executive Director (Texas Fair Defense Project), Austin, TX
Place, Allen (Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association), Austin, TX
Shapleigh, Ballard C. Trial Division Chief (Jaime Esparza, District Attorney, 34th
Judicial Dist.), El Paso, TX
Wood, Justin Assistant District Attorney (Harris County District Attorney's Office),
Houston, TX
Yanez - Correa, Ana Executive Director (Texas Criminal Justice Coalition), Austin, TX

Q. - There seems to be two 'For' columns, anyone know what this means?

Anonymous said...

Those wishing to learn what the Senate Research Center had to say about the bill of all bills can check it out at the following link.


Anonymous said...

From a wrongfully prosecuted human's point of view, the best part is the opening -


Criminal discovery — the exchange of relevant information between prosecutors and the defense prior to trial—is both necessary for a fair and just criminal justice system, and also required as part of a defendant's constitutional right to a full defense.

Brady v. Maryland requires prosecutors to turn over to the defense any evidence that is relevant to the defendant's case. However, Brady is vague and open to interpretation, resulting in different levels of discovery across different counties in Texas. That is why a uniform discovery statute is needed. C.S.S.B. 1611 will save attorney resources as well as taxpayer dollars by limiting discovery disputes and increasing efficient resolution of cases, all while reducing the likelihood of costly appeals and wrongful convictions.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:33 - the first "for" column are those who testified. The second are people who registered "for" but chose not to speak.

BTW, I'm told through the grapevine that the discovery bill was sent to this committee because the House sponsor, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, asked for it. I trust that she knows what she's doing so this is probably a good thing. Word is the Speaker is sympathetic and folks are hoping that will help get it on a Major State calendar.