Innocence Commission Act

Summary: The Innocence Commission Act establishes a commission to investigate wrongful convictions, determine their cause, and recommend solutions.

Information about Innocence Commissions is available at the Innocence Project. Such Commissions have been established in CA, CT, FL, IL, LA, NY, NC, PA, TX and WI.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Innocence Commission Act.”

SECTION 2. INNOCENCE COMMISSION

(A) ESTABLISHMENT—There is established a commission to be known as the Innocence Commission. The commission is composed of nine members.

(B) APPOINTMENTS

1. The Governor shall appoint two members, one of whom must be a dean of a law school and one of whom must be a law enforcement officer. The Attorney General shall appoint a member who must be an attorney who represents the state in the prosecution of felonies. The chair of the Senate [criminal justice committee] shall appoint one member who may be a member of the legislature. The chair of the House [criminal justice committee] shall appoint one member who may be a member of the legislature. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall appoint one member who must be a member of the judiciary. The Chancellor of the University of [State] shall appoint two members, one of whom must be a law professor and one of whom must work in the field of forensic science. The [State] Criminal Defense Lawyers Association shall appoint one member who must be a criminal defense lawyer.

2. The members of the commission shall be appointed within 90 days of the effective date of this Act.

3. Each member shall serve a two-year term.

4. The Governor shall designate a member to serve as the presiding officer.

(C) DUTIES

1. The commission shall thoroughly investigate all post-conviction exonerations, including convictions vacated based on a plea to time served, to:

a. Ascertain errors and defects in the criminal procedure used to prosecute the defendant’s case at issue;

b. Identify errors and defects in the criminal justice process in this state generally;

c. Develop solutions and methods to correct the identified errors and defects; and

d. Identify procedures and programs to prevent future wrongful convictions.

2. The commission may enter into contracts for research services as considered necessary to complete the investigation of a particular case, including forensic testing and autopsies.

3. The commission may administer oaths and issue subpoenas, signed by the presiding officer, to compel the production of documents and the attendance of witnesses as considered necessary to conduct a thorough investigation. A subpoena of the commission shall be served by a peace officer in the manner in which [district court] subpoenas are served. On application of the commission, a district court of [the capital city] shall compel compliance with the subpoena in the same manner as for district court subpoenas.

(D) REPORT

1. The commission shall compile a detailed annual report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation to implement procedures and programs to prevent future wrongful convictions.

2. The report shall be made available to the public on request.

3. The findings and recommendations contained in the report may not be used as binding evidence in a subsequent civil or criminal proceeding.

(E) SUBMISSION—The commission shall submit the report to the Governor and the legislature not later than December 1 of each even-numbered year.

(F) REIMBURSEMENT—A member of the commission is not entitled to compensation but is entitled to reimbursement for the member’s travel expenses as provided by [cite state law].

SECTION 3. EFFECTIVE DATE

This Act shall take effect on July 1, 20XX.


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