Texas has over 600 news laws going into effect this month. One law aims to reverse our State’s wrongful conviction epidemic by allows writs to be filed challenging convictions based on junk science.
From the article-
“I’m going to predict right now that at least several hundred people over the next few years will come out of prison because of this law,” Innocence Project founder Jeff Blackburn said.
The law, six years in the making, will overturn convictions in cases where the science behind the forensic evidence has proved phony.
Techniques like dog scent line-ups, some fingerprint and arson forensics, even some hair and fiber analysis have all been discredited as credible scientific evidence.
Oh, the dog scent line-up. Whenever I try to explain just how rigged the system in Texas, that is, in favor of the letting prosecutors put on whatever bullshit “expert” or “scientist” they want in order to convict, I always come back to the dog scent lineup. Here’s the backstory if you are interested.
Dog scent lineups aren’t far removed from dog scent drug searches. Dog scent searches are more about handlers creating “alerts” whenever they want, and the fact you can’t cross examine a canine, but I digress.
It’s good to see the legislature seriously address the shortcomings in the criminal justice system. I hope this is a sign of things to come for future sessions.
Here’s the bill if you are interested.
Chapter 11, Code of Criminal Procedure
Art. 11.073. PROCEDURE RELATED TO CERTAIN SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. (a) This article applies to relevant scientific evidence that:
(1) was not available to be offered by a convicted person at the convicted person’s trial; or
(2) contradicts scientific evidence relied on by the state at trial.
(b) A court may grant a convicted person relief on an application for a writ of habeas corpus if:
(1) the convicted person files an application, in the manner provided by Article 11.07, 11.071, or 11.072, containing specific facts indicating that:
(A) relevant scientific evidence is currently available and was not available at the time of the convicted person’s trial because the evidence was not ascertainable through the exercise of reasonable diligence by the convicted person before the date of or during the convicted person’s trial; and
(B) the scientific evidence would be admissible under the Texas Rules of Evidence at a trial held on the date of the application; and
(2) the court makes the findings described by Subdivisions (1)(A) and (B) and also finds that, had the scientific evidence been presented at trial, on the preponderance of the evidence the person would not have been convicted.
(c) For purposes of Section 4(a)(1), Article 11.07, Section 5(a)(1), Article 11.071, and Section 9(a), Article 11.072, a claim or issue could not have been presented previously in an original application or in a previously considered application if the claim or issue is based on relevant scientific evidence that was not ascertainable through the exercise of reasonable diligence by the convicted person on or before the date on which the original application or a previously considered application, as applicable, was filed.
(d) In making a finding as to whether relevant scientific evidence was not ascertainable through the exercise of reasonable diligence on or before a specific date, the court shall consider whether the scientific knowledge or method on which the relevant scientific evidence is based has changed since:
(1) the applicable trial date or dates, for a determination made with respect to an original application; or
(2) the date on which the original application or a previously considered application, as applicable, was filed, for a determination made with respect to a subsequent application.
SECTION 2. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed on or after the effective date of this Act. An application for a writ of habeas corpus filed before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect at the time the application was filed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.
SECTION 3. This Act takes effect September 1, 2013.