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  83R1716 ADM-D
 
  By: McClendon H.B. No. 166
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the creation of a commission to investigate convictions
  after exoneration and to prevent wrongful convictions.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 43, Code of Criminal Procedure, is
  amended by adding Article 43.27 to read as follows:
         Art. 43.27.  TIMOTHY COLE EXONERATION REVIEW COMMISSION
         Sec. 1.  CREATION. The Timothy Cole Exoneration Review
  Commission is created.
         Sec. 2.  COMPOSITION. The commission is composed of nine
  members appointed by the governor. The governor shall make
  appointments to the commission without regard to the race, color,
  disability, sex, religion, age, or national origin of the
  appointee.
         Sec. 3.  TERMS; VACANCIES.  (a)  Members serve staggered
  six-year terms, with one-third of the members' terms expiring
  February 1 of each odd-numbered year.
         (b)  In the event of a vacancy, the governor shall appoint a
  replacement to fill the unexpired portion of the term.
         (c)  The presiding officer of the commission shall be elected
  on an annual basis by the members of the commission.
         Sec. 4.  MEETINGS.  (a)  The commission may hold its
  meetings, hearings, and other proceedings at times and places as
  the commission shall determine, but shall meet in Austin at least
  once each year. Proceedings shall be by majority vote of those
  present.
         (b)  The commission shall conduct a public hearing at least
  once a year, the agenda of which must include a review of the work of
  the commission in reviewing and investigating matters considered by
  the commission under this article.
         Sec. 5.  QUALIFICATIONS.  (a)  Each member must be a
  registered voter of the state.
         (b)  A member of the commission may not hold any other public
  office or be an employee of any state department or agency, or be an
  employee or member of another state board or commission during the
  member's tenure on the commission.
         (c)  An individual may not be a member of the commission or
  act as the general counsel to the commission if the individual or
  individual's spouse is required to register as a lobbyist under
  Chapter 305, Government Code, because of the individual's
  activities for compensation on behalf of a profession or entity
  related to the operation of the commission.
         Sec. 6.  GROUNDS FOR REMOVAL.  (a)  It is a ground for
  removal from the commission that a member:
               (1)  does not have at the time of appointment the
  qualifications required by this article;
               (2)  does not maintain during service on the commission
  the qualifications required by this article;
               (3)  violates a prohibition established by this
  article;
               (4)  is ineligible for membership under this article;
               (5)  cannot, because of illness or disability,
  discharge the member's duties for a substantial part of the member's
  term; or
               (6)  is absent from more than half of the regularly
  scheduled meetings that the member is eligible to attend during a
  calendar year, unless the absence is excused by a majority vote of
  the commission.
         (b)  The validity of an action of the commission is not
  affected by the fact that it is taken when a ground for removal of a
  commission member exists.
         Sec. 7.  COMMISSION MEMBER TRAINING.  (a)  A person who is
  appointed to and qualifies for office as a member of the commission
  shall complete a training program that meets the requirements of
  this section.
         (b)  The training program must provide the person with
  information regarding:
               (1)  the legislation that created the commission;
               (2)  the programs operated by the commission;
               (3)  the role and functions of the commission;
               (4)  the rules of the commission, with an emphasis on
  the rules that relate to its investigatory authority;
               (5)  the requirements of laws relating to public
  officials and public meetings, including conflict-of-interest
  laws; and
               (6)  any applicable ethics policies adopted by the
  commission or the Texas Ethics Commission.
         Sec. 8.  SUNSET PROVISION.  The Timothy Cole Exoneration
  Review Commission is subject to Chapter 325, Government Code (Texas
  Sunset Act). Unless continued in existence as provided by that
  chapter, the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission is
  abolished and this article expires September 1, 2025.
         Sec. 9.  DUTIES.  (a)  The commission shall make thorough
  review or investigation of all cases in which an innocent person was
  convicted and exonerated, including convictions vacated based on a
  plea to time served, to:
               (1)  identify the causes of wrongful convictions;
               (2)  ascertain errors and defects in the laws, rules,
  proof, and procedures applied in prosecuting the defendant's case
  at issue or implicated by each identified cause of wrongful
  convictions;
               (3)  identify errors and defects in the criminal
  justice process in this state generally, using peer-reviewed
  research, expert analysis, and demographic data;
               (4)  consider and develop solutions and methods to
  correct the identified errors and defects through legislation,
  rule, or procedural changes; and
               (5)  identify procedures, programs, and educational or
  training opportunities demonstrated to eliminate or minimize the
  causes of wrongful convictions and prevent the future occurrence of
  wrongful convictions and resulting executions.
         (b)  The commission shall thoroughly review each application
  for writ of habeas corpus made to the court of criminal appeals for
  which the court has issued a final ruling to:
               (1)  identify any ethical violations or misconduct by
  attorneys or judges revealed in the course of the habeas review
  process;
               (2)  refer any ethical violations or misconduct
  discovered to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the State
  Bar of Texas, the office of the attorney general, or other
  appropriate agency or office to review the violations or misconduct
  and, if appropriate, initiate or take corrective disciplinary
  action;
               (3)  identify any patterns of ethical violations or
  misconduct by attorneys or judges or errors or defects in the
  criminal justice system in this state that impact the habeas review
  process;
               (4)  consider and develop solutions and methods to
  correct through legislation, rule, or procedural changes the
  patterns, errors, and defects identified under Subdivision (3); and
               (5)  identify procedures, programs, and educational or
  training opportunities demonstrated to eliminate or minimize the
  patterns, errors, and defects identified under Subdivision (3).
         (c)  The commission shall consider potential implementation
  plans, costs, cost savings, and the impact on the criminal justice
  system for each potential solution identified under Subsection (a)
  or (b).
         (d)  The commission may enter into contracts for research and
  professional services as may be necessary or appropriate to
  facilitate the work and activities of the commission or complete
  the review or investigation of a particular case, including
  forensic testing and autopsies.
         Sec. 10.  REPORTS AND RECORDS.  (a)  The commission shall
  compile a detailed annual report of its findings and
  recommendations, including any proposed legislation, rule, or
  policy changes necessary or appropriate to implement procedures and
  programs to prevent the causes and occurrence of future wrongful
  convictions, wrongful executions, or defects or errors in the
  habeas review process.  The commission may also compile interim
  reports for the same or similar purposes.
         (b)  Official annual and interim reports issued by the
  commission must be made available to the public on request.
         (c)  The findings and recommendations contained in the
  official reports issued by the commission may be used as evidence in
  any subsequent civil or criminal proceeding, according to the
  applicable procedural and evidentiary rules for the tribunal in
  which a particular matter is or may be pending.
         (d)  Working papers and records, including all documentary
  or other information, prepared or maintained by the commission,
  members, or staff in performing the commission's duties under this
  article or other law to conduct an evaluation and prepare a report,
  are excepted from the public disclosure requirements of Section
  552.021, Government Code. A record held by another entity that is
  considered to be confidential by law and that the commission
  receives in connection with the performance of the commission's
  functions under this article or another law remains confidential
  and is excepted from the public disclosure requirements of Section
  552.021, Government Code.
         Sec. 11.  SUBMISSION. The commission shall submit the
  reports described by Section 10 to the governor, the lieutenant
  governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the
  legislature not later than December 1 of each even-numbered year,
  or not later than the 60th day after the issuance of the report,
  whichever occurs first.
         Sec. 12.  GIFTS AND GRANTS.  (a)  The commission may apply
  for and accept gifts, grants, and donations from any organization
  described in Section 501(c)(3) or (4), Internal Revenue Code of
  1986, for the purpose of funding any activity of the commission
  under this article. The commission may apply for and accept grants
  under federal programs.
         (b)  The commission may also receive donations from private
  individuals or entities.
         (c)  All gifts, grants, and donations must be accepted in an
  open meeting by a majority of the members of the commission then
  present and voting, and must be reported in the public records of
  the commission with the name of the donor and purpose of the gift,
  grant, or donation accepted.
         (d)  The commission may authorize and disburse subgrants of
  funds from those funds that the commission may accept from time to
  time under this section for appropriate programs, services, and
  activities related to and in accord with the purposes and
  activities of the commission.
         Sec. 13.  COMPENSATION; REIMBURSEMENT. A member of the
  commission may not receive compensation for the services provided
  as a member. A member is entitled to reimbursement by the
  commission for the member's actual and necessary expenses incurred
  in performing commission duties, subject to the availability of
  funds from general revenue that may be appropriated to the
  commission by the state. Reimbursements to members for actual and
  necessary expenses incurred may be authorized by the commission
  through funds received and administered by the commission from
  gifts, grants, and donations the commission accepts under Section
  12.
         Sec. 14.  ASSISTANCE OF STATE AGENCIES; ACCESS TO STATE
  AGENCIES.  (a)  The Legislative Budget Board and The University of
  Texas at Austin shall assist the commission in performing the
  commission's duties.
         (b)  The commission may also request the assistance of other
  state agencies and officers. When assistance is requested, a state
  agency or officer shall assist the commission in carrying out its
  functions under this article. The commission or its designee may
  inspect the records, documents, and files of any state agency in
  carrying out the commission's duties.
         Sec. 15.  OTHER LAW. The commission is not subject to
  Chapter 2110, Government Code.
         SECTION 2.  In appointing the initial members of the Timothy
  Cole Exoneration Review Commission, the governor shall appoint
  three persons to terms expiring February 1, 2015, three to terms
  expiring February 1, 2017, and three to terms expiring February 1,
  2019.
         SECTION 3.  The appointments to the Timothy Cole Exoneration
  Review Commission required by Article 43.27, Code of Criminal
  Procedure, as added by this Act, shall be made not later than the
  60th day after the effective date of this Act.
         SECTION 4.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.  If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
  Act takes effect September 1, 2013.