IPTX, Wrongful Convictions and Criminal Justice in Texas
JULY 20, 2017 | THURSDAY
Texas leads the way in setting limits on prosecutors' use of jailhouse snitches | Dallas Morning News | To Texas' everlasting credit, it is about to become a national model for reducing the chances for "incentivized testimony," a polite term for paid snitching, to tip the scales in our state's courtrooms.
JULY 18, 2017 | TUESDAY
Innocence Project of Texas (IPTX) Receives Prestigious Warren Burnett Award from the State Bar of Texas | IPTX Press Release | Yesterday in Houston, IPTX proudly accepted the 2017 State Bar of Texas Warren Burnett Award. This award recognizes contributions by individuals or organizations dedicated to improving the quality of criminal legal representation, especially on behalf of indigent defendants. IPTX is only the second organization to receive the Warren Burnett award. The award was accepted by IPTX board president Gary Udashen and IPTX exonerees Anna Vasquez and Kristie Mayhugh (of the San Antonio Four).
JULY 15, 2017 | SATURDAY
Texas Cracks Down on the Market for Jailhouse Snitches | New York Times | Last month, Texas, which has been a minefield of wrongful convictions — more than 300 in the last 30 years alone — passed the most comprehensive effort yet to rein in the dangers of transactional snitching.
JUNE 15, 2017 | FRIDAY
Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signs Landmark Wrongful Conviction Legislation | IPTX Press Release | Governor Greg Abbott has signed critical legislation into law that implements many of the recommendations of the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission (named after IPTX exoneree Timothy Cole) - a commission created by the legislature in 2015 to review causes of wrongful convictions and propose suggestions on how the state of Texas can prevent future wrongful convictions. These changes will enhance transparency and accuracy in the criminal justice system by regulating the use of jailhouse informants, requiring police to record all custodial interrogations for suspects in serious felony cases, strengthening the use of eyewitness identification best practices and tasking the Texas Forensic Science Commission to study drug field test kits and crime scene investigations. IPTX served on the Commission and worked in partnership with the Innocence Project (New York City) to secure passage of this bill.
NOVEMBER 28, 2016 | MONDAY
The Problem With Jailhouse Snitches | Houston Press | There’s an old saying that Innocence Project of Texas Executive Director Mike Ware likes to apply to jailhouse snitches, and the chances that they are telling the truth. It goes: “Even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while," he said. "I guess every once in a while a snitch is telling the truth.”
NOVEMBER 23, 2016 | WEDNESDAY
'San Antonio 4' Declared Innocent by Texas Court of Appeals | Rolling Stone | The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday that the "San Antonio 4," the four women who were the subject of the gripping new documentary Southwest of Salem, were wrongfully convicted of aggravated sexual assault and will be exonerated, according to KSAT 12 News.
JUNE 18, 2016 | SATURDAY
Why free lawyers shouldn’t come cheap | Christian Science Monitor | In Loudoun County, Va., where Ruzic works as an assistant public defender, the police department gets $84 million, county prosecutors get $3.3 million, and public defenders get $2.1 million. Put another way, 98 percent of the criminal justice spending in the county is arrayed against Ruzic.
JUNE 17, 2016 | FRIDAY
Texas court halts execution of man in 'shaken baby' death case | Reuters | The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday halted the planned June 21 execution of Robert Roberson and sent his case back to a trial court. It based its decision on a recent state law that permits legal challenges citing new scientific evidence potentially pointing to wrongful convictions.
Kane County leaders debate public defender staffing | Daily Herald/Chicago | "I wish I could say with confidence that we are able to put up enough of a rigorous defense that we are able to prevent wrongful convictions."
JUNE 16, 2016 | THURSDAY
Why to people confess to a crime they did not commit? | Newsweek | In 1966, false confessions seemed like a rare problem. Fifty years later, we have seen hundreds of exonerations of innocent defendants who confessed to terrible crimes after they received Miranda warnings.
JUNE 7, 2016 | TUESDAY
Four Latinas Fight to Clear Their Names | Latina | In the late 1990s, a case shook the San Antonio community like no other before it had: Four queer Latinas were accused of raping two little girls. The women, who all maintained their innocence, were convicted and sentenced to prison.
JUNE 6, 2016 | MONDAY
Reversal of Fortune | Texas Monthly | Kerry Max Cook, third from right, was legally exonerated today.
Trail Blazers Blog | Dallas Morning News | After nearly 40 years, murder charges dropped against Kerry Max Cook in East Texas case.
Texas Man Cleared of Murder Charges | Reuters | Murder charges were dismissed on Monday against a former Texas prisoner released from jail in 1999 after serving about 20 years on death row for the rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman.
Sonia Cacy Found to Be Innocent | Texas Monthly | More than twenty years after she was convicted, Cacy is totally cleared of her uncle's murder.
Woman Fighting 1993 Murder Conviction Gets a Key Victory | Texas Tribune | A judge has ruled that Sonia Cacy, a West Texas woman convicted of setting her uncle on fire, is innocent of murder, basing his decision on new analysis of evidence presented at her 1993 trial.
JUNE 3, 2016 | FRIDAY
The Usual Suspect | Texas Monthly | Stunning new evidence in the case of Kerry Max Cook casts serious doubt on his 1978 murder conviction–and points emphatically at another man.
Trail Blazers Blog | Dallas Morning News | Kerry Max Cook takes 40-year fight for exoneration back to court with new evidence of innocence.
MAY 31, 2016 | TUESDAY
Who should control Houston's crime lab? | Houston Chronicle | Houston residents should be proud of the progress the city has made in the field of forensic science.
MAY 17, 2016 | TUESDAY
Falsely convicted Bedford grandfather now a free man | Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Minutes after John Nolley’s murder conviction was overturned, his oldest son got the longest embrace.
MARCH 21, 2016 | MONDAY
Panel mulls recording of police interrogations | Houston Chronicle | Seeking to prevent wrongful convictions, commission eyes patchwork of regulations.
DECEMBER 26, 2015 | SATURDAY
The Texas Justice League | Dallas Morning News | Editorial: John Whitmire, Rodney Ellis and Ruth Jones McClendon led the charge for far-reaching criminal justice reforms.