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New Bill Prevents Wrongful Charges, Could Save Tax Dollars

A bill passed by the Texas Senate and House will require prosecutors and defense attorneys to share files and statements with one another. Taylor County is one of very few who has a closed-file policy, and the Michael Morton Act will change that. Lawyers say this could mean faster trials and fewer tax dollars spent. But the D.A. says that isn't going to change.
Evidence. It's what lawyers use to make, and to ultimately win their case. And as of now, prosecutors don't have to share it with the defense. But now, a new bill could be changing that.

"It makes the government provide to the defense what they have," explained criminal defense attorney Randy Wilson. 

For or against the client, they'll have to show it.

"Of course, scientific reports, witness lists, search warrants and things of that nature have always been provided," said James Eidson, Taylor County District Attorney.

But Wilson disagrees. He says that hasn't always been the case, and that Taylor County is one of very few counties that doesn't have an open-file policy.

"Primarily it's what we have here is known as a closed file policy," he said. "Many times the prosecutors will read what the witness said to us, or they will summarize it."

The new bill could mean fewer tax dollars spent. Many times, the courts appoint lawyers. Wilson says if they have the documents available to them, lawyers will spend less time preparing and less time in court, potentially lowering the fee that's paid by your tax dollars.

But that's not the only potential benefit.

"A person who is actually guilty will often times, the case will often times move much quicker. He'd be more likely to plea guilty," he said.



And the district attorney argues that this isn't always the case...

"I don't think it's going to change the end result one way or another in a material sense," said Eidson. "I think justice is still going to be found at the end of the day, it's just going to take us a lot more time, expense and effort to get there."
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