AUSTIN â€“ Gov. Rick Perry last week signed Senate Bill 1611, the Michael Morton Act, which will help prevent wrongful convictions in Texas.
“Texas is a law-and-order state, and with that tradition comes a responsibility to make our judicial process as transparent and open as possible,â€ Gov. Perry said. “Senate Bill 1611 helps serve that cause, making our system fairer and helping prevent wrongful convictions and penalties harsher than what is warranted by the facts.â€
The Michael Morton Act will allow Texasâ€™ criminal justice system to be more responsive to a case, even after it has been tried, by ensuring a more open discovery process. The billâ€™s open file policy allows for broader discovery, and removes barriers for accessing any evidence, except for items that would affect the security of a victim or witness.
“Discovery reform is simply vital to the reliability and quality of our justice system,â€ Sen. Ellis said. “The Michael Morton Act will help safeguard the innocent, convict only the guilty, and provide justice the people of Texas can have faith in.â€
“The Michael Morton Act is an incredibly important step in creating a more just Texas criminal justice system,â€ Rep. Thompson said. “It will improve the reliability of criminal convictions and ensure that we have a quality justice system where all relevant evidence and facts are brought to light, and allow for more efficient resolutions to criminal proceedings.â€
Senate Bill 1611 becomes law on Sept. 1, 2013.