Texas’ highest criminal court is supporting the struggling Texas Innocence Network, a possible signal of a a crack in state officials’ longtime resistance to innocence claims, the Houston Chronicle says. The growing number of exonerations in recent years persuaded the Court of Criminal Appeals to put up $10,000 from an education fund it oversees to finance a Nov. 5 conference in Austin on how to expand the Innocence Network statewide, said Judge Barbara Hervey. The network is based at two universities.
The appeals court has been criticized for what some consider its indifference to innocence claims. “The court has been criticized, particularly by the defense bar, as being prosecution-oriented,” said law professor Robert Dawson, who heads the Innocence Network branch at the University of Texas at Austin. “That’s what makes Judge Hervey’s participation so remarkable.” Said Hervey: “My goal is to see Texas lead the way nationwide.” The court’s backing for an endeavor that many prosecutors view as a nuisance may signal a growing sentiment that the judicial system needs changes to deal with wrongful convictions.