This website will be unavailable from Friday, April 26, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. through Monday, April 29, 2024 at 7:00 a.m. due to data center maintenance.

 
 
  By: McClendon, Thompson, Gallego, Hodge, H.B. No. 498
      Pierson, et al.
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the creation of a commission to investigate and prevent
  wrongful convictions.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 43, Code of Criminal Procedure, is
  amended by adding Article 43.27 to read as follows:
         Art. 43.27.  TIMOTHY COLE INNOCENCE COMMISSION
         Sec. 1.  CREATION.  The Timothy Cole Innocence Commission is
  created.
         Sec. 2.  COMPOSITION. (a) The commission is composed of the
  following nine members:
               (1)  two members appointed by the governor, one of whom
  must be a dean of a law school and one of whom must be a law
  enforcement officer;
               (2)  one member appointed by the attorney general, who
  must be an attorney who represents the state in the prosecution of
  felonies;
               (3)  one member appointed by the chair of the criminal
  justice committee of the senate, who may be a member of the
  legislature;
               (4)  one member appointed by the chair of the criminal
  jurisprudence committee of the house of representatives, who may be
  a member of the legislature;
               (5)  one member appointed by the chief justice of the
  supreme court, who must be a member of the judiciary;
               (6)  two members appointed by the chancellor of the
  Texas Tech University System, one of whom must be a law professor
  and one of whom must work in the forensic science field; and
               (7)  one member appointed by the Texas Criminal Defense
  Lawyers Association, who must be a criminal defense lawyer.
         (b)  Each member serves a two-year term.
         (c)  The governor shall designate a member to serve as
  presiding officer.
         Sec. 3.  DUTIES.  (a)  The commission shall investigate
  thoroughly all post-conviction exonerations, including convictions
  vacated based on a plea to time served, to:
               (1)  ascertain errors and defects in the criminal
  procedure used to prosecute the defendant's case at issue;
               (2)  identify errors and defects in the criminal
  justice process in this state generally;
               (3)  develop solutions and methods to correct the
  identified errors and defects; and
               (4)  identify procedures and programs to prevent future
  wrongful convictions.
         (b)  The commission may enter into contracts for research
  services as considered necessary to complete the investigation of a
  particular case, including forensic testing and autopsies.
         (c)  The commission may administer oaths and issue
  subpoenas, signed by the presiding officer, to compel the
  production of documents and the attendance of witnesses as
  considered necessary to conduct a thorough investigation.  A
  subpoena of the commission shall be served by a peace officer in the
  manner in which district court subpoenas are served.  On
  application of the commission, a district court of Travis County
  shall compel compliance with the subpoena in the same manner as for
  district court subpoenas.
         Sec. 4.  REPORT.  (a)  The commission shall compile a
  detailed annual report of its findings and recommendations,
  including any proposed legislation to implement procedures and
  programs to prevent future wrongful convictions.
         (b)  The report shall be made available to the public on
  request.
         Sec. 5.  SUBMISSION. The commission shall submit the report
  described by Section 4 to the governor, the lieutenant governor,
  and the speaker of the house of representatives not later than
  December 1 of each even-numbered year.
         Sec. 6.  RESPONSE.  Not later than the 60th day after the
  date of receipt of the report required by this article, the
  governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house of
  representatives shall, singly or jointly, issue a formal written
  response to the findings and recommendations of the commission.
         Sec. 7.  REIMBURSEMENT.  A member of the commission is not
  entitled to compensation but is entitled to reimbursement for the
  member's travel expenses as provided by Chapter 660, Government
  Code, and the General Appropriations Act.
         Sec. 8.  ASSISTANCE.  The Texas Legislative Council, the
  Legislative Budget Board, and the Texas Tech University System
  shall assist the commission in performing the commission's duties.
         Sec. 9.  OTHER LAW.  The commission is not subject to Chapter
  2110, Government Code.
         SECTION 2.  The appointments to the Timothy Cole Innocence
  Commission as required by Article 43.27, Code of Criminal
  Procedure, as added by this Act, shall be made not later than
  November 1, 2009.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2009.