News 04.30.08

Dallas DA will push for conviction reviews across Texas

In the wake of yesterday’s release of James Lee Woodard, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins said he will lobby for the creation of Conviction Integrity Units across the state. Watkins took office in 2007 as Texas’ first African-American District Attorney, and quickly created a Conviction Integrity Unit to review past cases for possible wrongful convictions. The unit was instrumental in overturning Woodard’s conviction. Before his release yesterday, Woodard had served 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

"This is a perfect time to do it," Watkins said (of conviction reviews across the state). "We have to look at it. We have to balance that time when we are being a politician, and when we are a human being."

…Before walking out of the courtroom to "breathe in fresh, clean air," Woodard praised Watkins' office for having a public integrity unit that was willing to work with the Innocence Project to prove his innocence.

"I used to have nightmares about the DA's office, but now they are among my best friends," Woodard said in an earlier interview.


Read the full story here

. (Star-Telegram, 04/30/08)


Read more media coverage of his case here

.

Woodard was represented by the

Innocence Project of Texas

, a member of the

Innocence Network

.

Read a blog post on the case by IPOT Executive Director Natalie Roetzel here

.

Tomorrow night, May 1, IPOT will host a benefit event in Dallas featuring four leaders in the legal community – District Attorney Craig Watkins, IPOT Chief Counsel Jeff Blackburn, Judge John Creuzot and Southern Poverty Law Center Founder Morris Dees.

Learn more here

.

Two weeks ago, Innocence Project client Thomas McGowan was released in Dallas.

Read more about his case here

.

In light of the unprecendented number of wrongful convictions in Texas overturned by DNA testing, state leaders are holding a Summit on Wrongful Convictions at the capital in Austin on May 8.

Learn more here

.

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