Eyewitness Identification Reform
State statute requires law enforcement agencies to adopt procedures for photo and live lineups that comply with minimum standard best practices, to include at a minimum the blind administration of lineups, proper instructions, proper fillers, and confidence statements. A model policy is to be promulgated by the Texas Law Enforcement Management institute.
In 2017 Texas passed legislation to make further improvements to eyewitness identification by permitting in-court identification by an eyewitness only admissible if it is accompanied by the details of each prior out-of-court identification procedure and requiring eyewitness identification training for all officers who conduct lineup procedures.
Effective: 2011; Amended most recently: 2017
Recording of Interrogations
Law enforcement agencies shall electronically record custodial interrogations of suspects in serious felony cases in their entirey. Effective: 2017.
Post Conviction DNA Testing
Any convicted person, or the guardian of a convicted person on their behalf of the convicted person, may apply for post-conviction DNA testing through the convicting court. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2015.
State statute requires the automatic preservation of biological evidence in felony cases. This evidence must be retained until the inmate dies, is executed, or is released on parole for individuals convicted for a capital felony. For those persons sentenced to a term of confinement or imprisonment the evidence must be preserved until the defendant dies, completes the sentence, or is released on parole or mandatory supervision. When an individual is sentenced to community supervision the evidence must be preserved until the defendant completes the term of supervision. In cold cases, evidence is to be retained for no less than 40 years or until the applicable statute of limitations has expired. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2013.
Texas' statute meets the best practices standards outlined by the NIST Technical Working Group on Biological Evidence Preservation.
A wrongfully convicted person is entitled to $80,000 per year of wrongful incarceration, an annuity, as well as $25,000 per year spent on parole or as a registered sex offender. The wrongfully convicted person is also entitled to compensation for child support payments, tuition for up to 120 hours at a career center or public institution of higher learning, reentry and reintegration services, and the opportunity to buy into the Texas State Employee Health Plan. Effective: 2001; Amended most recently: 2011.and here.
State statute requires an attorney representing the state to track the use of jailhouse informant testimony, regardless of whether the testimony is presented at trial, and any benefits offered to the informant in exchange for their testimony. If the state intends to use jailhouse informant testimony at the defendant’s trial, the state shall disclose to the defendant any information that is relevant to the person’s credibility including: (1) the person’s complete criminal history, including any charges that were dismissed or reduced as part of a plea bargain, (2) any grant, promise, or offer of immunity from prosecution, reduction of sentence or other leniency or special treatment given by the state in exchange for the person’s testimony, and (3) information concerning other criminal cases in which the person has testified, or offered to testify, against a defendant with whom the person was imprisoned or confined including any grant, promise, or offer given by the state in exchange for the testimony. Evidence of prior offenses committed by jailhouse informant who received a benefit may be admissible for purpose of impeachment, regardless of whether the person was convicted of the offense. Previously only crimes that resulted in convictions were admissible, meaning that previous charges dismissed against a jailhouse informant in exchange for testimony were inadmissible. Effective: 2017.
Forensic Science Oversight
The Texas Forensic Science Commission was originally created by state statute in 2005 and later modified by the legislature a few different times. The Forensic Science Commission is tasked with: establishing procedures, policies, and practices to improve the quality of forensic analyses in Texas; investigating allegations of professional negligence or misconduct at laboratories in the state and maintaining a system for laboratories to report such incidents; investigating complaints involving forensic disciplines; initiating investigations into forensic analysis to advance the integrity and reliability of forensic science in Texas; accrediting crime laboratories and other forensic analysis entities; and establishing a forensic analyst licensing program. The Forensic Science Commission has nine members all appointed by the Governor -- seven are scientists and two are attorneys. Effective: 2005. Amended most recently: 2019.