Texas’ highest criminal court today announced the creation of a new Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit to address concerns of injustice in the court system and work with inmates who say they’ve been wrongfully convicted. The group’s initial invited members include Court of Criminal Appeals judge Barbara Hervey, Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis (also the Innocence Project Board Chairman), members of Gov. Rick Perry’s staff, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges.
"This is a call to action to address the growing concerns with our criminal justice system," Hervey said.
David Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston and director of the Texas Innocence Network, said the integrity unit could have a huge impact. Unreliable eyewitness evidence is the top contributor to wrongful convictions, he said, Better preservation of evidence could help wrongfully convicted inmates use emerging technologies to win their case.
"I think this is fabulous," Dow said. "I think the court's recognition of the problem by itself is noteworthy."
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. (Associated Press, 06/04/08)
A Summit on Wrongful Convictions in Austin last month added momentum to the push for a state innocence commission to study wrongful convictions.
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Meanwhile, the New York State Bar Association has also established a 22-member task force to study wrongful convictions. Members of this group will also come from across the legal spectrum – both inside and outside the state’s criminal justice system.
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. (Newsday, 06/04/08)