AUSTIN – Today, Texas State Representative Jessica González filed HB 3500, HB 3502, and HB 3501. Each of these bills will help ensure the integrity of Texas’ criminal justice system. Working in coordination with Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot’s office, this legislation was drafted to protect the rights of those convicted wrongfully. These bills make small changes to existing law that have the potential to transform lives.
HB 3500 will provide legal assistance to incarcerated individuals who may have been wrongfully convicted. This bill ensures indigent defendants with potentially meritorious writs of habeas corpus have court-appointed counsel that will investigate and advocate for their clients’ rights. HB 3500 safeguards constitutional rights for those with limited avenues of recourse.
On this bill, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said, “The bill provides legal assistance to incarcerated individuals who may have a potential meritorious claim for wrongful conviction.”
HB 3502 extends the amount of time exhibits must be retained so Texans are able to exercise their right to appeal without fear evidence will be destroyed. Currently, a person convicted of a crime may in the course of pursuing an appeal discover that critical exhibits used during trial were thrown out.
District Attorney Creuzot said, “Expanding the timeline that a clerk must retain case exhibits will greatly assist us in bringing justice to individuals in wrongful conviction cases.”
HB 3501 clarifies the procedure for notifying a defendant when there is a change to the retention and preservation period for blood or urine collected during the investigation of an intoxication offense, such as a DUI. This bill outlines the procedure by which a defendant is notified that toxicological material will be retained for additional investigation.
Rep. González said, “As a state representative and a member of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, I hold sacred the responsibility I share with my colleagues to see that justice is done. When an innocent person sits behinds bars or faces the death penalty for a crime they did not commit, our system failed. Texas failed. Those of us vested with the public trust, from line prosecutors to the governor, must strive to see justice done regardless of race, gender, or financial circumstance.”
Contact: Adam Goodrum