Top Jurists Back Innocence Commission

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Top state jurists in Texas support
creating a commission to investigate wrongful convictions.
But Governor Rick Perry says such a panel would be a needless
addition to state bureaucracy.
Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson endorsed the commission
idea in 2005 and 2007 and says he hasn't heard a worthy objection
yet. He wants state lawmakers to pay for a panel.
Sharon Keller is presiding judge of the state's highest criminal
court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She offered qualified
support, saying she doesn't want a commission that duplicates work
of the Innocence Projects statewide and nationwide.
But a Perry spokeswoman says the governor doesn't think such a
commission is needed. Spokeswoman Allison Castle says Perry
supports a better system for providing attorneys to poor criminal
defendants, and favors post-conviction DNA testing.
This month, nine men who were exonerated of crimes urged
lawmakers to study the causes of wrongful convictions and try to
prevent them. Since 2001, 33 men have been exonerated, including 17
in Dallas County using DNA testing.
But many district attorneys fear a commission could become a
forum for bashing prosecutors.


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