Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 1611, the Michael Morton Act, which will help prevent wrongful convictions in Texas. The governor was joined by Sens. Rodney Ellis and Robert Duncan, Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Tryon Lewis, and Michael Morton for the bill signing.
"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," 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."
The Michael Morton Act will allow Texas' criminal justice system to be more responsive to a case, even after it has been tried, by ensuring a more open discovery process. The bill'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," 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."
"I have long been an advocate for an efficient, effective and uniform court system across Texas. This legislation is a giant step forward in reaching that goal," Sen. Duncan said. "I am proud that stakeholders from across the state were able to come together and set aside their differences to improve our criminal justice system."
"The Michael Morton Act is an incredibly important step in creating a more just Texas criminal justice system," 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."