News 04.09.07

Cleared by DNA 25 Years after Wrongful Conviction in Dallas, James Giles To Join Other Exonerees and Innocence Project at Legislative Hearing on Statewide Reform Tuesday in Austin

(Dallas, TX; April 9, 2007) At a hearing this morning in Dallas, James Giles was cleared of a 1982 rape for which he served 10 years in prison and 14 years as a registered sex offender on parole. Within hours of finally having his name cleared, Giles is heading to Austin to urge the State Legislature to pass several bills that can address and prevent wrongful convictions.

This morning, the Innocence Project and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office submitted new evidence showing that another man named James Giles, along with two other men, committed the rape. Giles is the 13th Dallas County man proven innocent through DNA testing in less than six years.


Click here for more information on Giles' case

.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 10), Giles will join

James Waller

(the 12th Dallas County man proven innocent through DNA) and two other Texas men exonerated through DNA evidence (

Chris Ochoa

, who was exonerated in Austin, and

Brandon Moon

, who was exonerated in El Paso) at the State Legislature in Austin for a hearing on three bills to improve the criminal justice system statewide. Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck appeared in court this morning with Giles and will testify in Austin on Tuesday.

"Finally, after 25 years, James Giles has cleared his name. Now we have to learn the lessons from these wrongful convictions and prevent this from happening to anyone else, which is why we’re going right from the courthouse in Dallas to the Legislature in Austin," Scheck said. The Innocence Project is affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.

The three bills being heard by the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday are:

 

  • SB 263, which would create an Innocence Commission to investigate the causes of wrongful convictions and develop remedies to prevent them (Six other states already have such commissions, and several states are considering similar legislation this year.

    Click here for more on the existing commissions

    .)
  • SB 262, whch would increase the amount of compensation for people who have been wrongfully convicted
  • (Texas law currently provides $25,000 per year, up to 10 years, for people who have been wrongfully convicted. This bill would increase the amount to $50,000, in line with the federal standard.)
  • SB 799, which would enhance eyewitness identification procedures (75% of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA were caused, at least in part, by eyewitness misidentification. Nearly all of the 13 men proven innocent by DNA testing in Dallas County, including Giles and Waller, were convicted in part based on eyewitness misidentification.)

Following are logistical details on tomorrow’s press conference and legislative hearing, along with background on each of the four men exonerated through DNA who will be in Austin advocating for passage of reform legislation:

Press conference and legislative hearing on bills to improve the criminal justice system


Who:

State Senator Rodney Ellis and other legislators

Barry Scheck, Innocence Project Co-Director

Four men from across the state who were exonerated through DNA

(

James Giles

and

James Waller

, Dallas County;

Chris Ochoa

, Austin;

Brandon Moon

, El Paso)


When:

Tuesday, April 10

9:30 a.m. press conference with legislators, Barry Scheck, and four Texas men exonerated through DNA

10 a.m. Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing, where Scheck and four men exonerated in Texas will testify


Where:

Press conference (9:30 a.m.) is in the Lt. Governor’s Press Room (2E.9);

Hearing (10 a.m.) is in E1.016


Click here for the hearing notice

.

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