Exoneration panel clears preliminary House vote

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Associated Press

Posted on April 23, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 24 at 1:04 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A new state panel would investigate wrongful convictions in Texas under a bill given preliminary approval in the House.

The proposed Tim Cole Exoneration Review Commission is named for an Army veteran who died in prison in 1999 and was posthumously exonerated by DNA evidence nearly a decade later.

Democratic state Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon on Tuesday told House members that "each vindication of an innocent person reveals a tragic failure in the justice system." Her bill creates a commission tasked with uncovering why a person was wrongfully convicted following a formal exoneration.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson is among the prominent names supporting the idea. Lawmakers this session have given heightened attention to wrongful convictions following a recent run of high-profile exonerations in Texas.

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