Curbing Prosecutorial Abuse in Texas

This is good news.  I hope it passes.  And the related law setting up stricter rules for eye-witness testimony may the first law named for a victim I can remember ever supporting

With more than 300 exonerations across the nation of people convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, we all have witnessed the limits of a criminal justice system flawed by human error — be that unintentional or intentional.

Nowhere more than in Texas has the weight of those imperfections been felt in cases that have tested public confidence in the criminal justice system and spurred big changes at the Legislature. That was true in the Timothy Cole case and is proving true in the Michael Morton case.

Morton’s testimony last week before the Texas Senate helped steer Senate Bill 825, prompted by his case, over a crucial hurdle. The bill aims to hold prosecutors accountable if they hide or suppress evidence from defendants. Morton’s lawyers claim prosecutors failed to turn over key evidence supporting Morton’s claim of innocence. Clearly, current laws are too lenient in punishing such practices, which not only are unethical, but illegal. The Legislature should pass the bill.

  • LarryGross

    seems like Gov Perry already weighed in on that during the debates, eh?

  • http://profiles.google.com/maruadventurer john mcginnis

    Its a good move. Now about that abuse of civil forfeiture......

  • marque2

    I always find it crazy that legislators answer to a problem is to create a bill to make something even more illegal than it was before.

    This happens a lot with murder of girls. Murdering girls is already illegal and punishable by long sentence, but law enforcement gets lax and someone slips through the cracks and murders another girl than then we get Chelsea's Law, Pollie's law, etc.

    What the legislators and executive in the state should be doing instead of sweeping the problem aside with another law, is to figure out what systematic problems there are in law enforcement to begin with and fix that. Otherwise with the new law. Folks will pay attention for about a year, then go back to eating doughnuts and not caring any more.

  • markm

    No law will deter official misconduct as long as only the officials or their cronies can prosecute. If the legislature really wants to make an impact, they should revive private prosecutions.

  • irandom

    I remember a story that cops will get fired basically, but during the appeal which no one ever attends it gets reversed.