Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DNA Proof of Injustice Too Much for Chief Justice

On the frontier of better things for the state of Texas, TX Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson joins forces with the Dallas Morning News to seek real justice.

In the face of repeated cases that saw convictions overturned when DNA evidence proved the verdicts were wrong, Chief Justice Jefferson is calling for oversight of the system. A commission to review the process in the cases that were decided incorrectly, and take a closer look at the kind of proceedings that can be reformed to correct our system has his support. Legislation has been introduced to institute this commission, introduced by TX Senator Rodney Ellis.

Even one wrongful conviction should be a shocking aberration in our system of justice, which is based on the principle that "it is better that the guilty go free than the innocent be jailed." These 30 cases come from the small subset of convictions in which genetic evidence has been preserved by the state and therefore raise the deeply troubling – and largely untestable – possibility of a proportionate number of erroneous convictions in which no DNA testing is possible.
Further, no one should fear the "soft on crime" label for supporting a commission of the sort I have in mind. Every wrongful conviction leaves the true criminal unpunished and free to commit other crimes, while undermining our faith in the justice system, which is so essential to an orderly society.

The commission's findings and recommendations would benefit both sides of the criminal bar and promote public confidence in the swift and sure enforcement of our laws. Understanding the causes of wrongful convictions will not only allow defense attorneys to defend innocent clients more effectively, but it will also give prosecutors renewed confidence that their public service enhances public safety.

The strengthening of our justice system is in the interest of everyone, not just those who have been wrongly charged or convicted.

The justice system can be improved even more by eliminating the death penalty altogether. Even DNA is not 100% proof of wrongdoing.

The News has moved into the forrefront of civilization in its stand against the death penalty. The increase in forces humanizing our justice system is very appropriate for Texas.

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