Yesterday we reported on the so-called "dark money" bill that recently passed the Texas Legislature and landed on Gov. Perry's desk. Today, we note that lawmakers passed the so-called "Michael Morton Act," which is actually a combination of two bills, H.B. 1790 and S.B. 1611. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, S.B. 1611 will "ensur[e] that defense lawyers have access to the evidence that the prosecution is relying upon," as this "will help prevent wrongful convictions." Additionally, the organization notes that H.B. 1790, a jail reform bill, would "allow those convicted of a state jail felony currently on probation to apply for a reduction in the classification of their offense to a Class A misdemeanor. This would only be possible after a few years of successful probation."
Although bills in the Texas legislature cannot be given official short titles, it seems that many gain informal short titles while traveling through the legislative process; this is true of both the "dark money" bill and the "Michael Morton Act." After serving 25 years for the murder of his wife, Michael Morton was released from prison after DNA evidence exonerated him. An interview prosecutors had with Morton's son was never provided to defense counsel, something that S.B. 1611 specifically targets.