An advisory panel bearing the name of a wrongfully convicted inmate from Fort Worth is apparently leaning against recommending the creation of a state innocence commission amid concerns that it would create a new bureaucracy and duplicate work already being performed in Texas law schools.
The concept of an innocence commission to investigate whether convictions are wrongful was among several recommendations discussed Thursday by the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel. Cole, who died in prison after being convicted for a sexual assault that he didn't commit, was recently given a posthumous pardon by Gov. Rick Perry.
The panel deferred votes until its next meeting, but members generally expressed reservations about creating an innocence commission. Some members called for bolstering similar work now under way in four Texas law schools.
The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech, the University of Houston and Texas Southern University have projects or clinics that examine questionable convictions. Similar projects are in operation across the country.
The commission's stance generally tracks that of Perry, who believes a commission "would create an added layer of government," said Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle. Perry's deputy general counsel, Mary Anne Wiley, is a member of the panel.
"The governor's focus is working to ensure wrongful convictions don't happen in the first place," Castle said, "like supporting the law school innocence project, creating expert attorneys who specialize in post conviction death penalty cases and encouraging the creation of more public defender offices across the state to ensure competent counsel by attorneys who specialize in death penalty cases."
Friday, April 23, 2010
Advisory panel leaning against innocence commission
Dave Montgomery from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that: