State House passes wrongful conviction legislation

The Texas State House has passed HB 166, which would create the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission.

It now heads to the Senate.

Local attorney Jeff Blackburn, who created the Innocence Project says heâ??s personally gratified a panel could be set up. "It was my case and I know the family very well. Itâ??s very much ours."

But politically he says, the project was not initially in favor of a commission, citing too much bureaucracy.

West Texas A&M ã??Criminal Justice and Sociology Instructor Claudia Stuart agrees. "I would like to know if the other layer of bureaucracy is getting to the social justice rights of the individual or is it going to be another tactic to prolong the process?"

But Blackburn says the Innocence Project now supports the legislation. He says heâ??s worked positively with the Forensics Commission and has realized the value of such entities.

Randall County District Attorney James Farren does not agree with the legislation. He says itâ??s unnecessary. The Current court system is sufficient.

District 47 Attorney Randall Sims agrees with Farren. He says anyone who votes for the bill is uninformed on what the bill truly does and who will be funding it.