Gov. Rick Perry signed the Michael Morton Act into law Thursday, praising the bipartisan legislation — passed unanimously in both houses — for “making our system more fair and helping prevent wrongful convictions.”
“We are known as a law and order state. As such, we have never been easy on those who have been convicted of a crime,” Perry said as cameras clicked and Morton and key legislators stood in a row behind him.
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The Michael Morton Act:
• Ensures that defendants can view, and electronically copy, all police offense reports and witness statements in prosecution files.
• Protects witnesses and victims by requiring defense lawyers to redact identifying information, such as addresses and phone numbers, from documents shared with defendants and potential witnesses.
• Allows defense lawyers to share prosecution information with the defendant, investigators, experts and consulting lawyers, but all others must be approved by the trial judge.
• Requires prosecutors to list the evidence provided to defense lawyers, creating a record for potential appeals or future legal disputes.
• Requires prosecutors to promptly disclose favorable evidence uncovered during and after trial.