As approved 31-0 by senators, Senate Bill 121 by state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, will require law enforcement agencies in Texas to adopt best-practice standards for eyewitness identification — in both photo and live lineups — where there is no such law now.
A 2008 study found that only 12 percent of police departments in Texas had any such standards.
“Eighty-six percent of the 44 DNA exonerations in Texas have been due to incorrect eyewitness identification,” Ellis said.
“The Texas Senate today took a very important step toward improving justice in Texas. … It enacts a simple best practice to ensure we have reliable evidence in our courtrooms to ensure the conviction of the guilty and the protection of the innocent.”
That’s one of Sen. Ellis’ package of innocence-related bills, whose House companion has passed out of committee. With any luck, this will be the year that these needed reforms get enacted. Kudos to Sen. Ellis for his tireless work on the subject. The Trib has more.