Evidence and Criminal Procedure

The Governor’s reason for vetoing the expunction bill:

House Bill No. 3481 would authorize the expunction of criminal records, including law enforcement case files, 180 days after an arrest if no formal misdemeanor or felony charges have been filed. Current statutory provisions require that the statute of limitations for the particular offense, usually at least two years, expire before criminal records may be destroyed, including in cases involving misdemeanor offenses.

Actually, those statutory provisions were not put in place to deny folks the opportunity to expunge dismissed cases. It was the activist (as well as 100% Republican) Texas Supreme Court decision, State v. Beam, that incorrectly interpreted the legislature’s 2001 amendment’s to Code of Criminal Procedure Chapter 55.01 dealing with expunctions.


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It’s been twenty years. Two years after the 1989 murder of a Georgia police officer, Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to die for the crime. He has still, eighteen long years later, still not been executed.

Former federal prosecutor and noted softie Bob Barr writes an op-ed piece in the NYT:

There is no abuse of government power more egregious than executing an innocent man. But that is exactly what may happen if the United States Supreme Court fails to intervene on behalf of Troy Davis.

Mr. Davis is facing execution for the 1989 murder of an off-duty police officer in Savannah, Ga., even though seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony against him. Many of these witnesses now say they were pressured into testifying falsely against him by police officers who were understandably eager to convict someone for killing a comrade. No court has ever heard the evidence of Mr. Davis’s innocence.


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How likely are you to believe you saw something that didn’t happen? Depends on the circumstances, of course.

The January 2009 issue of Psychological Science includes a study titled “Recalling a Witnessed Event Increases Eyewitness Suggestibility: The Reversed Testing Effect”. 

Studies have already shown that receiving misinformation about witnessed events prior to recall would