After having success snatched from the jaws of the victory the last two legislative sessions the third time was the charm. Convicted defendants will soon have a post-conviction remedy for claims that are based on the use of bad science, or where new science is available.
Senate Bill 344 adds Section 11.073 to the Code of Criminal Procedure. The new statute applies to relevant scientific evidence that:
(1) was not available to be offered by a convicted person at the convicted person's trial; or
(2) discredits scientific evidence relied on by the State at trial.
This has the potential to represent a huge change in the law. The Court of Criminal Appeals has taken different approaches to cases involving discredited scientific evidence. Recently, the Court has recognized a due process claim for cases where the conviction is based on false evidence - whether the State knew it or not. This bill goes at least that far - if not farther.
The burden is still on the defendant to that it is "it is reasonably probable" that he would not have been convicted. Sometimes that will be easy - such as arson cases - and sometimes it might be more difficult.
There should be no doubt that science has been used to convict people in thousands of cases. Science is not absolute, and continues to evolve as more knowledge is obtained. It is absurd to convict one using science, and then not grant relief when it is later proven the science was wrong. This bill goes a long way to addressing that problem.
Kudos to the Texas legislature....