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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Media Coverage of Committee Hearing on Moratorium on Executions and Law of Parties Bills

Texas House panel considers death penalty bills

By SOMMER INGRAM Associated Press
March 29, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas lawmaker wants to suspend executions in the nation's most active death penalty state and create a commission to study whether the process needs to be fixed.

A state House committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill by Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, that would create the Texas Capital Punishment Commission and establish a two-year moratorium on executions while the commission completes its study.

The nine-member commission would propose legislation to fix any inequities in state capital punishment procedures based on the study's findings.

Advocates of the bill say that Texas has long needed to thoroughly vet its use of the penalty. At least 12 Texans have been exonerated from death row, and supporters say the state must carefully scrutinize the statute to erase any doubt about whether death row inmates are actually guilty.

"That's a flaw in our system that I think deserves some attention from this Legislature," Dutton said. "And we ought to stop the system from executing people while we fix it."

Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network, likened the penalty to a plane that has crashed and needs examination.

"After a plane crash, we look to see what the problem was," he said. "The death penalty is a flawed system, but one we haven't looked at in a comprehensive way to see if we can improve the system to protect people who are innocent."

Dutton's bill was just one of several bills the committee left pending to change the state death penalty and alter procedures in capital felony cases.

Dutton and Rep. Borris Miles, D-Houston, are working to amend a state law that has prompted nationwide criticism.

A Texas statute known as the law of parties allows a person to be held liable for a murder as a co-conspirator and possibly face the death penalty even if they didn't physically commit the crime.

The bills would allow co-defendants to have separate trials in death penalty cases. Dutton's bill would prohibit death sentences in such cases.

Family members and friends of Texans convicted under the law testified before the committee, pleading with lawmakers to fundamentally change the statute that unfairly sent their loved ones to death row.

The statute caught lawmakers' attention in 2007 when the case of Kenneth Foster spurred national outrage and a massive grassroots effort to prove his innocence.

Foster was the driver of getaway car in a 1996 robbery-turned-shooting. Foster was tried with the murderer, and the jury invoked the law of parties to determine that Foster should have anticipated that the robberies could end in murder.

"Everything that applied to one, applied to the other," Foster's father, Kenneth Foster, Sr., said of the trial. "It was unfair for each one because the negative weight took a toll on both throughout the entire trial."

After spending 10 years on death row, Foster was hours away from being executed as an accomplice to murder when Gov. Rick Perry spared his life.

Following the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommendation that Perry grant Foster a death row reprieve, the governor expressed concern about defendants being tried at the same time and urged lawmakers to re-examine the practice.

"Foster's story is a perfect example of why this needs to be changed," Miles said. "To sentence a man to death who has not committed murder himself is inhumane, cruel and fundamentally unjust."

Those advocating for reform say the law is based in unrealistic expectations akin to mind-reading.

"This law cries out for change," said attorney Mary Phelps. "It's so broadly written that it actually could involve people who had no connection to the eventual crime."


Bill calls for two-year moratorium on executions in Texas

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
March 29, 2011
AUSTIN -- Clarence Brandley spent 10 years on Death Row for the slaying of a 16-year-old girl, a crime he didn't commit. Now, more than two decades after being cleared, the former custodian hopes to convince Texas lawmakers that it's time to abolish the death penalty in Texas -- or least impose a moratorium on executions.

"To me, it's just a tool that prosecutors use to enhance their political careers," he said.

Maura Irby of Houston embodies the opposite side of the debate. Her husband, Houston motorcycle officer James B. Irby, was killed in June 1990 while making a routine traffic stop. A passenger, a paroled convict, shot him.

If the death penalty is abolished or suspended, Maura Irby said Tuesday, "what kind of message does that send to our law enforcement if we're not making it safe for them to do their jobs?"

The opposing perspectives of one of society's most contentious issues were on display Tuesday as the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard testimony in the first extensive death penalty hearing of the 82nd Legislature.

Texas has executed more inmates than any other state -- 446 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Five have executions scheduled through midsummer, including two from Tarrant County.

One is Cleve Foster, who is scheduled to be executed Tuesday for the 2002 rape-slaying of Mary Pal, a Sudanese immigrant. The other is Cary Kerr, whose execution date is May 3 for raping, beating and strangling Pamela Horton in 2001. Foster would be the first Texas inmate executed with a new three-drug mixture.

Moratorium proposed

Among the bills considered Tuesday was HB1641 by Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, which would impose a two-year moratorium on executions while a select commission investigates how capital punishment is carried out in Texas. Dutton and Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, are also sponsoring separate bills to abolish the death penalty.

Dutton said his proposal is designed to "make sure that the people who are factually innocent don't wind up being legally guilty."

Former Gov. Mark White, who oversaw 19 executions while he was in office from 1983 to 1987, endorsed the moratorium in a letter to the committee. White, a Democrat who has previously raised questions about the death penalty, said he believes that the review is needed to deflect "the possibility of our justice system executing an innocent individual."

Charles Terrell, former chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Department, also supports the moratorium and investigative commission, calling Dutton's bill a "matter of common sense."

"Texas does not need to be executing innocent people, and what harm does a moratorium do?" he said. He noted that Death Row inmates "would not be released from prison while the study is done."

More than 40 exonerations in Texas -- including several of Death Row inmates -- have fueled efforts to abolish or suspend the death penalty.

Opponents also cite the high-profile case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 after a Corsicana jury convicted him of killing his three daughters in a house fire.

Several fire experts have said that the arson investigation was based on outmoded science, raising the possibility that the fire may have been accidental. The Texas Forensic Science Commission is reported to be nearly finished with an inquiry into the case.

"Texas has a problem with its death penalty system and we need to take a two-year pause on executions," said Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network, a leading supporter of Dutton's bill.

But Charley Wilkison, director of public affairs for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said his organization strongly opposes Dutton's bill, saying that lifting or suspending capital punishment would endanger officers.

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Video of News Coverage of House Committee Hearing on Bill for Moratorium on Executions

FOX 7 in Austin reported on the hearing on death penalty bills March 29, 2011 in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, including Rep Harold Dutton's bills for a moratorium on executions and abolishing the death penalty.

Click here to watch the video of the FOX 7 news report, including clips of Clarence Brandley, who spent ten years on death row as an innocent person, Rep Dutton and Texas Moratorium Network president Scott Cobb.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Texas House Panel Considers Bills on Death Penalty Moratorium and Abolition

Click here to watch a video from MyFox Austin about the hearing in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on a bill to establish a two year moratorium on executions and to create a commission to study the death penalty, and another bill to abolish the death penalty, both filed by State Rep Harold Dutton. Clarence Brandley, an innocent person who spent ten years on death row in Texas for a crime he did not commit, testified to the committee. He is shown being interviewed by MyFoxAustin.

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Letter from Former Governor Mark White Supporting HB 1641 by Rep Harold Dutton

Statement from former Texas Governor Mark White Supporting HB 1641 by Rep Harold Dutton

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Statement by Charles Terrell Supporting HB 1641 for a Moratorium on Executions and Study Commission

Charles Terrell,
Former Chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Department
Former Chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Task Force
Chairman of Safer Dallas Better Dallas.

Statement by Charles Terrell Supporting HB 1641 for a moratorium on executions

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Monday, March 28, 2011

House Committe Set to Hear Testimony Tuesday on Bills Arising from Case of Kenneth Foster

Kenneth Foster Sr in 2007 after hearing the news that his son
Kenneth Foster Jr's death sentence was just commuted to life
by Governor Rick Perry
Today, Tuesday March 29, the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hear testimony on two bills that would require separate trials in death penalty cases. HB 2200 was filed by State Rep Borris Miles to require separate trials. HB 2511 was filed by State Rep Harold Dutton. In addition to the separate trials requirement, Dutton's HB 2511 also contains a provision prohibiting death sentences in Law of Parties cases.

The issue of separate trials arose after Governor Rick Perry commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Foster, Jr in 2007. At the time, Perry cited the fact that Foster had been tried together with his co-defendant as a reason for his decision to commute the death sentence. Rep Dutton has also filed HB 855 that would prohibit death sentences in Law of Parties cases. It will also be heard on Tuesday.

Below is the statement Perry issued on the day of the commutation in 2007:


Governor Rick Perry Commutes Death Sentence

Thursday, August 30, 2007  •  Press Release



AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today commuted the death sentence of Kenneth Eugene Foster of San Antonio to life imprisonment after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (TBPP) recommended such action.

On May 6, 1997, Foster was sentenced to death for his role in the 1996 capital murder of Michael LaHood. Foster sought to have his death sentence commuted to a life sentence arguing that he did not shoot the victim, but merely drove the car in which that the actual killer was riding. In addition, Foster was tried along side the actual killer, Maurecio Brown, and the jury that convicted Foster also considered punishment for both him and his co-defendant in the same proceeding.
“After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the recommendations from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right and just decision is to commute Foster’s sentence from the death penalty to life imprisonment,” Gov. Perry said. “I am concerned about Texas law that allows capital murder defendants to be tried simultaneously, and it is an issue I think the legislature should examine.”
The TBPP voted 6-1 to recommend commutation, and the governor signed the commutation papers Thursday morning.
The governor’s action means Foster’s sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment as soon as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice can process this change.

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Updated Start Time for Tuesday's Hearing on Death Penalty Bills in House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence

The likely start time for the hearing on the death penalty bills on Tuesday March 29 in the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence is 1:30 - 2 PM. The full House does not even start meeting until noon and the committee does not start until "upon adjournment of the House", so 1:30 or 2 is the probable start time for the hearing.

The hearing will likely go all afternoon and maybe into the early evening. We do not know in which order the bills will be taken up. If you absolutely can not get off work till 5, then come by after work and you will probably still be able to sign a support form in favor of the bills. But try to get there earlier so we can fill the meeting room with lots of people.

The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence has set a hearing for Tuesday March 29, 2011 on several death penalty related bills, including a moratorium on executions (HB 1641), abolition of the death penalty (HB 852 and HB 819), and prohibiting death sentences in Law of Parties cases (HB 855 and HB 2511).

Please make plans to attend the meeting and sign in to show your support for bills that would stop executions in Texas. The meeting will be held in room 120 of the John H. Reagan Building at 105 W. 15th Street in Austin in the capitol complex (map). We have created a Facebook event page for the committee hearing. Post the event page to your Facebook profile and invite your friends to the meeting, so we get more people to attend the meeting.

Call the members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and urge them to vote in favor of a moratorium on executions, as well as the other bills that you favor.

Chair: Pete Gallego (Democrat, District 74 - Alpine)   (512) 463-0566  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/petegallego

Vice Chair: Will Hartnett (Republican, District 114 - Dallas)  (512) 463-0576  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/willhartnett

Jose Aliseda (Republican, District 35 - Beeville)   (512) 463-0645   
Email form   http://tinyurl.com/josealiseda

Cindy Burkett (Republican, District101 – Mesquite)  (512) 463-0464  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/cindyburkett

Stefani Carter (Republican,District 102 – Dallas)   (512) 463-0454  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/stefanicarter

Wayne Christian (Republican,District 9 – Center)  (512) 463-0556  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/waynechristian

Yvonne Davis (Democrat, District 111 – Dallas)   (512) 463-0598  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/yvonnedavis

Eddie Rodriguez (Democrat, District 51 - Austin)   (512) 463-0674   
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/repeddierodriguez

Bill Zedler (Republican,District 96 – Arlington)   (512) 463-0374   
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/billzedler

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
COMMITTEE: Criminal Jurisprudence

TIME and DATE: Upon final adjourn./recess
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PLACE: JHR 120
CHAIR: Rep. Pete Gallego

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Randall Dale Adams: His Story Should Move Legislators to Vote for a Moratorium on Executions

Randall Dale Adams in 2001 Calling for a Moratorium on
Executions in Texas
In 2001, Randall Dale Adams testified to a committees in the Texas House and Senate and told his story of how he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to Texas death row. His testimony helped convince the committees to vote in favor of a moratorium on executions. Later in 2001, 53 members of the Texas House voted for a moratorium on the floor of the Texas House in a bill filed by Rep Harold Dutton.

This Tuesday, the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will again consider a bill for a moratorium on executions (Facebook event page). The committee members should consider the case of Randall Adams as they consider whether they should vote for a moratorium.

Watch the beginning of "The Thin Blue Line" the documentary by Errol Morris that led to the exoneration of Randall Dale Adams, who at the time the film came out was still on death row in Texas.


Watch Errol Morris - The Thin Blue Line in Educational & How-To  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Listen to some music by Phillip Glass composed for the film "The Thin Blue Line".



Sentenced to death in 1977 for the murder of a police officer in Dallas, Texas, Randall Dale Adams was exonerated as a result of information uncovered by film‑maker Errol Morris and presented in an acclaimed 1988 documentary, The Thin Blue Line.
Patrolman Robert Wood was shot to death during a traffic stop on November 28, 1976, by sixteen-year-old David Ray Harris, who framed Adams to avoid prosecution himself. Another factor in the wrongful conviction was the surprise — and partly perjured — testimony of three eyewitnesses whose existence had been concealed from the defense until the witnesses appeared in the courtroom. A third factor was a statement Adams signed during interrogation that the prosecution construed as an admission that he had been at the scene of the crime.
The day before the murder, Adams was walking along a Dallas street after his car had run out of gasoline. Harris happened by, driving a stolen car. He offered Adams a ride and the two wound up spending the afternoon and evening together, drinking beer, smoking marijuana, pawning various items Harris had stolen, and going to a drive-in movie theater to watch porn movies. Adams then returned to a motel where he was staying.
Shortly after midnight, Wood and his partner, Teresa Turko, spotted Harris driving a blue car with no headlights. The officers stopped the car and, as Wood approached the driver’s side, Harris shot him five times. Wood died on the spot. As the car sped off, Turko fired several shots, but missed. She did not get a license number. She seemed certain that there was only one person in the car — the driver.
Harris drove directly to his home in Vidor, 300 miles southeast of Dallas. Over the next several days, he bragged to friends that he had “offed a pig” in Dallas. When police in Vidor learned of the statements, they took Harris in for questioning. He denied having had anything to do with the murder, claiming he had said otherwise only to “impress” his friends. But when police told him that a ballistics test established that a pistol he had stolen from his father was the murder weapon, Harris changed his story. He now claimed that he had been present at the shooting, but that it had been committed by a hitchhiker he had picked up — Adams.
Adams, an Ohio native working in Dallas, was taken in for questioning. He denied any knowledge of the crime, but he did give a detailed statement describing his activities the day before the murder. Police told him he had failed a polygraph test and that Harris had passed one, but Adams remained resolute in asserting his innocence.
Although polygraph results are not admissible in Texas courts, the results provided some rationale for questioning Harris’s story. However, when a police officer is murdered, authorities usually demand the most severe possible punishment, which in Texas, and most other U.S. jurisdictions, is death. Harris was only sixteen and ineligible for the death penalty; Adams was twenty-seven and thus could be executed.
At trial before Dallas County District Court Judge Don Metcalfe and a jury, Turko testified that she had not seen the killer clearly, but that his hair was the color of Adams’s. She also said that the killer wore a coat with a fur collar. Harris had such a coat, but Adams did not.
Adams took the stand and emphatically denied having any knowledge of the crime. But then the prosecution sprang two surprises. The first was the introduction of Adams’s purported signed statement, which police and prosecutors claimed was a confession, although it said only — falsely, according to Adams — that when he was in the car with Harris, they had at one point been near the crime scene. The second was the testimony of three purported eyewitnesses whose existence had until then been unknown to the defense. One of these witnesses, Michael Randell, testified that he had driven by the scene shortly before the murder and, in the car that had been stopped by the officers, had seen two persons, one of whom he claimed was Adams. The other two witnesses, Robert and Emily Miller, had happened by at about the same time, but claimed to have seen only one person in the car — Adams.
Because the eyewitnesses were called only to rebut Adams’s testimony, prosecutors claimed that Texas law did not require them to inform the defense of their existence before they testified. The weekend after their surprise testimony, however, the defense learned that Emily Miller had initially told police that the man she had seen appeared to be Mexican or a light-skinned African American. When the defense asked to recall the Millers to testify, the prosecution claimed that the couple had left town. In fact, the Millers had only moved from one part of Dallas to another. When the defense asked to introduce Emily Miller’s statement, Judge Metcalfe would not allow it. He said it would be unfair to impeach her credibility when she was not available for further examination.
The jury quickly returned a verdict of guilty and turned to sentencing. Under Texas law, in order for Adams to be sentenced to death, the jury was required to determine, among other things, whether there was “beyond a reasonable doubt [a] probability” that he or she would commit future acts of violence. To establish that Adams met that oxymoronic criterion, the prosecution called Dr. James Grigson, a Dallas psychiatrist known as “Dr. Death,” and Dr. John Holbrook, former chief of psychiatry for the Texas Department of Corrections.
Although the American Psychiatric Association has said on several occasions that future dangerousness was impossible to predict, Grigson and Holbrook testified that Adams would be dangerous unless executed. Grigson testified similarly in more than 100 other Texas cases that ended in death sentences. After hearing the psychiatrists, Adams’s jury voted to sentence him to death. Twenty one months later, at the end of January 1979, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and death sentence. Judge Metcalfe scheduled the execution for May 8, 1979.
Adams was only three days away from execution when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. ordered a stay. Powell was troubled that prospective jurors with moral qualms about the death penalty had been excluded from service, even though they had clearly stated that they would follow the Texas law.
To most observers — including, initially, Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade (of Roe v. Wade fame) — the Supreme Court’s language meant that Adams was entitled to a new trial. But a few days later Wade announced that a new trial would be a waste of money. Thus, he said, he was asking Governor Bill Clements to commute Adams’s sentence to life in prison. When the governor promptly complied, Wade proclaimed that there now would be no need for a new trial. Adams, of course, thought otherwise, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with Wade. As a result of the governor’s action, said the court, “There is now no error in the case.”
In March 1985, Errol Morris arrived in Dallas to work on a documentary about Grigson — “Dr. Death.” Morris’s intent had not been to question the guilt of defendants in whose cases Grigson had testified but only to question his psychiatric conclusions. When Morris met Adams, the focus of the project changed.
Morris learned from Randy Schaffer, a volunteer Houston lawyer who had been working on the case since 1982, that Harris had not led an exemplary life after helping convict Adams. Harris had joined the Army and been stationed in Germany, where he had been convicted in a military court of a series burglaries and sent to prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. A few months after his release, Harris had been convicted in California of kidnapping, armed robbery, and related crimes.
After his release from prison in California, and five months after Morris arrived in Dallas, Harris tried to kidnap a young woman named Roxanne Lockard in Beaumont, Texas. In an effort to prevent the abduction, Lockard’s boyfriend, Mark Mays, exchanged gunfire with Harris. Mays was shot to death and Harris was wounded. For the Mays murder — a crime that would not have occurred if Dallas authorities convicted the actual killer of Officer Wood eight years earlier — Harris was sentenced to death.
Meanwhile, Morris and Schaffer discovered that Officer Turko had been hypnotized during the investigation and initially had acknowledged that she had not seen the killer — facts that the prosecution had illegally withheld from the defense. Morris and Schaffer also found that robbery charges against the daughter of eyewitness Emily Miller had been dropped after Miller agreed to identify Adams as Wood’s killer. The new information, coupled with the fact that Miller initially had described the killer as Mexican or African American, became the basis for a new trial motion.
In 1988, during a three-day hearing on the motion before Dallas District Court Judge Larry Baraka, Harris recanted. “Twelve years ago, I was a kid, you know, and I’m not a kid anymore, and I realize I’ve been responsible for a great injustice,” Harris told Baraka. “And I felt like it’s my responsibility to step forward, to be a man, to admit my part in it. And that’s why I’m trying to correct an injustice.”
On December 2, 1988, Judge Baraka recommended to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that Adams be granted a new trial, and two months later he wrote a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommending that Adams be paroled immediately. The board refused, but on March 1 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously concurred with Baraka that Adams was entitled to a new trial. Three weeks later, Adams was released on his own recognizance, and two days after that, Dallas District Attorney John Vance, who had succeeded Wade, dropped all charges.
Harris was never tried for the murder of Officer Woods. On June 30, 2004, he was executed for the Mayes murder. — Researched by Michael L. Radelet
Bibliography: Adams v. Texas, 448 US 38 (1980); Adams v. Texas, 624 S.W.2d 568 (1981); Ex Parte Adams, 768 S.W.2d 281 (1989); Harris v. Texas, 784 S.W.2d 5 (1989); Adams, et al., Adams v. Texas, St. Martin’s Press, 1991; Radelet, et al., In Spite of Innocence, NE Univ. Press, 1992.
Further Reading: Radelet, Michael L., Hugo Adam Bedau and Constance E. Putnam, In Spite of Innocence/The Ordeal of 400 Americans Wrongly Convicted of Crimes Punishable by Death, Northeastern University Press, 1992.
Adams, Randall Dale, with William Hoffer and Marilyn Mona Hoffer, Adams v. Texas/The True Story Made Famous by the Highly Acclaimed Film The Thin Blue Line, St. Martin's Press, 1991.
Colloff, Pamela, "Only a man who came within three days of being executed for a crime he didn't commit could be as passionate an advocate for a death-penalty moratorium as Randall Dale Adams," Texas Monthly, September 2001.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hearing on Moratorium, Abolition and Law of Parties Tuesday March 29 Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence has set a hearing for Tuesday March 29, 2011 on several death penalty related bills, including a moratorium on executions (HB 1641), abolition of the death penalty (HB 852 and HB 819), and prohibiting death sentences in Law of Parties cases (HB 855 and HB 2511).

Please make plans to attend the meeting and sign in to show your support for bills that would stop executions in Texas. The meeting will be held in room 120 of the John H. Reagan Building at 105 W. 15th Street in Austin in the capitol complex (map). We have created a Facebook event page for the committee hearing. Post the event page to your Facebook profile and invite your friends to the meeting, so we get more people to attend the meeting.

Call the members of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and urge them to vote in favor of a moratorium on executions, as well as the other bills that you favor.


Chair: Pete Gallego (Democrat, District 74 - Alpine)   (512) 463-0566  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/petegallego

Vice Chair: Will Hartnett (Republican, District 114 - Dallas)  (512) 463-0576  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/willhartnett

Jose Aliseda (Republican, District 35 - Beeville)   (512) 463-0645   
Email form   http://tinyurl.com/josealiseda

Cindy Burkett (Republican, District101 – Mesquite)  (512) 463-0464  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/cindyburkett

Stefani Carter (Republican,District 102 – Dallas)   (512) 463-0454  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/stefanicarter

Wayne Christian (Republican,District 9 – Center)  (512) 463-0556  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/waynechristian

Yvonne Davis (Democrat, District 111 – Dallas)   (512) 463-0598  
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/yvonnedavis

Eddie Rodriguez (Democrat, District 51 - Austin)   (512) 463-0674   
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/repeddierodriguez

Bill Zedler (Republican,District 96 – Arlington)   (512) 463-0374   
Email form  http://tinyurl.com/billzedler




HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
COMMITTEE: Criminal Jurisprudence

TIME and DATE: Upon final adjourn./recess
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PLACE: JHR 120
CHAIR: Rep. Pete Gallego

HB 819 Farrar | et al.
Relating to abolishing the death penalty.

HB 852 Dutton
Relating to abolishing the death penalty.

HB 3400 Walle
Relating to certain sentencing procedures in a capital case.

HB 1670 Coleman
Relating to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with mental retardation.

HB 1646 Gallego
Relating to representation of certain applicants for writs of habeas corpus in cases involving the death penalty.

HB 2511 Dutton
Relating to the joint or separate prosecution of a capital felony charged against two or more defendants and the extent of a defendant's criminal responsibility for the conduct of a coconspirator in capital felony cases.

HB 566 Christian
Relating to the murder of certain individuals protected under a court order as a capital offense.

HB 1641 Dutton
Relating to the creation of a commission to study capital punishment in Texas and to a moratorium on executions.

HB 1973 Lucio III
Relating to the admissibility of certain statements in the prosecution of murder or capital murder.

HB 689 Dutton
Relating to the admissibility of certain evidence in capital cases in which the state seeks the death penalty.

HB 543 Dutton
Relating to the admissibility of certain confessions in capital cases.

HB 2337 Gallego
Relating to the admissibility in a court proceeding of certain statements.

HB 488 Dutton
Relating to standards for judicial review of certain writs of habeas corpus in capital cases.

HB 1113 Raymond
Relating to the sentencing hearing or deferred adjudication hearing and conditions of community supervision for defendants convicted of certain offenses involving controlled substances.

HB 855 Dutton
Relating to the extent of a defendant's criminal responsibility for the conduct of a coconspirator in certain felony cases.

HB 2856 Gallego
Relating to criminal asset forfeiture, the disposition of proceeds and property from criminal asset forfeiture, and accountability for that disposition; providing civil penalties.

HB 2822 Coleman
Relating to the penalty for and certain other civil consequences of engaging in disorderly conduct for a lewd or unlawful purpose.

HB 2662 Hochberg
Relating to child abduction.

HB 748 Menendez
Relating to a criminal defendant's incompetency to stand trial, to certain related time credits, and to the maximum period allowed for restoration of the defendant to competency.

HB 3375 Murphy
Relating to certain evidence in a prosecution of fraud or theft involving Medicaid or Medicare benefits.

HB 1029 Carter
Relating to the conditions of release on bond for certain defendants charged with the offense of burglary.

HB 1918 Larson
Relating to the appointment of counsel to represent an indigent defendant in a capital case and to the reimbursement of certain expenses incurred by appointed counsel.

HB 2374 Gallego
Relating to the taking of children into custody by certain law enforcement officers.

HB 3526 Davis, Yvonne
Relating to requiring certain victim information to be attached to certain arrest warrants.

HB 1205 Turner | et al.
Relating to the establishment of certain time credits through which a defendant's period of community supervision is reduced.

HB 3346 Burnam
Relating to certain information available to the public on a central database containing information about sex offenders.

HB 168 Raymond
Relating to the requirements of a bail bond.

HB 2200 Miles
Relating to the joint or separate prosecution of a capital felony charged against two or more defendants.

HB 777 Gonzalez, Naomi | et al.
Relating to court costs imposed on conviction and deposited to the courthouse security fund.

HB 809 Darby
Relating to the use of certain fees collected for pretrial intervention programs offered in a county.

HB 17 Riddle | et al.
Relating to the creation of the offense of criminal trespass by an illegal alien and to certain procedures for arresting illegal aliens for committing that criminal offense.

HB 1043 Christian | et al.
Relating to creating an offense for engaging in certain conduct relating to cockfighting and to the criminal and civil consequences of committing that offense.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Video of Texas House Passing Resolution Honoring Death Row Exonerees on the "Day of Innocence"

A couple of months ago, Texas Moratorium Network asked Rep Dutton if he would introduce a resolution honoring the death row exonerees who would be in Austin on the "Day of Innocence" and statewide Lobby Day Against the Death Penalty on March 16. He agreed and here is the video of the resolution passing last Wednesday. Click here to watch the video of the resolution being passed by Texas House of Representatives on the "Day of Innocence"




82R12583 MMS-D


By: DuttonH.R. No. 829







R E S O L U T I O N

       WHEREAS, Six former death row inmates who have been

exonerated of the crime for which they were convicted are visiting

the State Capitol on March 16, 2011, the Day of Innocence, in

support of a moratorium on executions and other related measures;

and

       WHEREAS, These men are among the 138 individuals who have

been released from death row since 1973, either because their

convictions were overturned and they then won acquittal at retrial

or had the charges against them dropped, or because they were given

an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of their

innocence; their lives forever changed by their wrongful

conviction, these six individuals are now working to reform the

criminal justice system; and

       WHEREAS, Convicted of murder in Texas in 1981, Clarence

Brandley was just weeks away from his scheduled execution when

evidence of coerced testimony and blatant racism in his first two

trials prompted the FBI to intervene; three years later, the

charges against him were dismissed; Mr. Brandley subsequently

married, apprenticed as an electrician, and became a Baptist

minister; his life became the subject of a book, White Lies, and a

cable TV movie, Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story; and

       WHEREAS, Sentenced to death in Louisiana in 1987, Albert

Burrell was 17 days away from execution in 1996 when his attorneys

won a stay; the attorney general's office dismissed the charges

against him in 2000, citing "a total lack of credible evidence," and

later DNA analysis reinforced that assessment; Albert Burrell

currently lives and works in Center; and

       WHEREAS, Gary Drinkard was convicted in Alabama in 1995; in

2000, the state supreme court ordered a retrial on the basis of

prosecutorial misconduct, and the following year a second jury

found him innocent; Mr. Drinkard's case was subsequently presented

to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to illustrate the critical

need that those facing the death penalty have for competent legal

representation; and

       WHEREAS, Framed for murder, Shujaa Graham was sentenced in

California in 1976; the state supreme court overturned his

conviction because the district attorney had systematically

excluded African American jurors in his first trial; Mr. Graham was

ultimately acquitted in 1981, and since then he has played a leading

role in the anti-death penalty and human rights movements; and

       WHEREAS, Ron Keine was sentenced to death in New Mexico in

1974 after a witness, under intense pressure from prosecutors,

fabricated a story about his guilt; the following year, the real

killer turned himself in, and a new trial for Mr. Keine and his

codefendants was eventually ordered; before the trial could be

held, though, a judge threw out the murder indictment on the grounds

that ballistic tests conclusively linked the confessed killer to

the murder weapon; freed in 1976, Mr. Keine now owns a business in

Michigan and is a leader in the campaign to abolish the death

penalty; and

       WHEREAS, Anthony Graves of Brenham was arrested in 1992 and

convicted in Texas in 1994, primarily on the testimony of one

witness who later recanted his story; the Fifth Circuit Court of

Appeals ultimately overturned Mr. Graves's conviction in 2006, and

he was then sent to the Burleson County jail to await his new trial,

which would be four years in coming; during that time, he was kept

in solitary confinement; finally, in 2010, 18 years after Mr.

Graves was first imprisoned, a special prosecutor determined that

no case against him had ever existed, and the charges against him

were dropped; and

       WHEREAS, There is no way to restore to these men the years

they have lost, or to compensate them for the mental and emotional

anguish they have suffered; notwithstanding the immeasurable pain

they have endured, however, they have found the resilience to take a

terrible ordeal and channel their response into constructive

endeavor; their strength and purposefulness are a testament to

their remarkable spirit and a continuing inspiration to countless

fellow citizens; now, therefore, be it

       RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 82nd Texas

Legislature hereby honor Clarence Brandley, Albert Burrell, Gary

Drinkard, Shujaa Graham, Ron Keine, and Anthony Graves for their

tenacity in the pursuit of justice and for their significant

contributions to the debate over an issue of paramount public

concern; and, be it further

       RESOLVED, That official copies of this resolution be prepared

for these gentlemen as an expression of high regard by the Texas

House of Representatives.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Death Penalty Related Legislation Filed in 2011 Texas Legislative Session

The filing deadline for legislation in the 2011 Regular Session of the Texas Legislature has passed. Below are the death penalty related proposals filed in the Texas House and Senate and their status as of March 21, 2011. 


Legislature: 82(R) - 2011 

 

Click for options HB 488Author: Dutton
Last Action02/17/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to standards for judicial review of certain writs of habeas corpus in capital cases.


Click for options HB 543Author: Dutton
Last Action02/18/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the admissibility of certain confessions in capital cases.


Click for options HB 566Author: Christian
Last Action02/18/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the murder of certain individuals protected under a court order as a capital offense.


Click for options HB 689Author: Dutton
Last Action02/21/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the admissibility of certain evidence in capital cases in which the state seeks the death penalty.


Click for options HB 819Author: Farrar | et al.
Last Action02/23/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to abolishing the death penalty.


Click for options HB 852Author: Dutton
Last Action02/24/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to abolishing the death penalty.


Click for options HB 855Author: Dutton
Last Action02/24/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the extent of a defendant's criminal responsibility for the conduct of a coconspirator in certain felony cases.


Click for options HB 1065Author: Riddle | et al.
Last Action02/28/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the murder of a child as a capital offense.


Click for options HB 1641Author: Dutton
Last Action03/03/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the creation of a commission to study capital punishment in Texas and to a moratorium on executions.


Click for options HB 1646Author: Gallego
Last Action03/03/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to representation of certain applicants for writs of habeas corpus in cases involving the death penalty.


Click for options HB 1670Author: Coleman
Last Action03/03/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with mental retardation.


Click for options HB 1918Author: Larson
Last Action03/07/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the appointment of counsel to represent an indigent defendant in a capital case and to the reimbursement of certain expenses incurred by appointed counsel.


Click for options HB 2200Author: Miles
Last Action03/10/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the joint or separate prosecution of a capital felony charged against two or more defendants.


Click for options HB 2511Author: Dutton
Last Action03/14/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the joint or separate prosecution of a capital felony charged against two or more defendants and the extent of a defendant's criminal responsibility for the conduct of a coconspirator in capital felony cases.


Click for options HB 3323Author: McClendon
Last Action03/18/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the standards for attorneys representing indigent defendants in capital cases.


Click for options HB 3400Author: Walle
Last Action03/18/2011 H Referred to Criminal Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to certain sentencing procedures in a capital case.


Click for options HB 3762Author: Marquez
Last Action03/11/2011 H Filed
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to creating a transparent and deliberative process by which execution procedures are determined.


Click for options HJR 97Author: Naishtat
Last Action03/22/2011 H Scheduled for public hearing on . . .
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to a moratorium on the execution of persons convicted of capital offenses.


Click for options SB 377Author: Huffman | et al.
Last Action03/22/2011 S Scheduled for public hearing on . . .
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the murder of a child as a capital offense.


Click for options SB 973Author: Hinojosa
Last Action03/08/2011 S Referred to Criminal Justice
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the reformation of the sentences of juveniles convicted of capital felonies after being transferred to criminal court.


Click for options SB 1028Author: Harris
Last Action03/16/2011 S Referred to Criminal Justice
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the appointment of counsel to represent an indigent defendant in a capital case and to the reimbursement of certain expenses incurred by appointed counsel.


Click for options SB 1078Author: Ellis
Last Action03/16/2011 S Referred to Criminal Justice
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to representation of certain applicants for writs of habeas corpus in cases involving the death penalty.


Click for options SB 1079Author: Ellis
Last Action03/16/2011 S Referred to Criminal Justice
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the applicability of the death penalty to a capital offense committed by a person with mental retardation.


Click for options SB 1308Author: Seliger
Last Action03/16/2011 S Referred to Jurisprudence
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the standards for attorneys representing indigent defendants in capital cases.


Click for options SB 1688Author: Ellis
Last Action03/11/2011 S Filed
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the authority of the governor to grant one or more reprieves in a capital case.




Click for options SB 1832Author: Ellis
Last Action03/11/2011 S Filed
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to notice to inmates and their attorneys of lethal substance or substances to be used in lethal injection.


Click for options SB 1835Author: Ellis
Last Action03/11/2011 S Filed
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Relating to the creation of a commission to investigate and prevent wrongful convictions.


Click for options SJR 44Author: Ellis
Last Action03/11/2011 S Filed
Caption Version:Introduced
Caption:Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant one or more reprieves in a capital case.

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