Editor's Comment: The Age of Discovery - By Michael Gross

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Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The egregious cases involving Michael Morton and Anthony Graves resulted in the passage of the Michael Morton Act—Senate Bill 1611. Michael Morton was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly a quarter of a century as a result of a district attorney concealing evidence. The case of Mr. Morton was so egregious that the district attorney has been disbarred, fined, and jailed as a result. Anthony Graves spent 16 years on death row until the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently overturned his case since prosecutors elicited false statements and withheld testimony. A special prosecutor reviewed the case of Mr. Graves and determined that he is an innocent man. The SB 1611 new discovery statute will provide a new evolution of discovery in Texas designed to eradicate such unconscionable actions by prosecutors. It is crucial, therefore, for those of us brothers and sisters in the criminal defense bar to be well-versed in this new discovery statute. What does the new discovery statute accomplish? How do we implement the discovery statute in our everyday practice? What are the possible pitfalls for us? What does the new discovery statute encompass?

Since the new discovery statute will take effect on January 1, 2014, the editorial staff of Voice for the Defense thought it necessary to devote an entire two-month edition to this new statute. Grant and I asked people with key insight on the statute to submit articles for this special edition of Voice. I am extremely grateful for the hard work and insightful articles submitted by (in alphabetical order) Mark Daniel, Keith Hampton, W. Troy McKinney, Allen Place, George Scharmen, and Randy Wilson. Each of these individuals has provided papers that delve into how this new discovery statute will apply to different criminal offenses and how we need to format and tailor our discovery requests under this new statute. This special edition of the Voice is intended to provide you with all the information you need to properly apply SB 1611 to your cases. Good luck to all of you with the new discovery statute, and I hope this special edition of the Voice proves to be a valuable tool for your practice.