From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
Monday, April 12, 2004
Contact: Kenneth Besserman, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis's Statement About the Josiah Sutton Hearing

"Today, District Court Judge Joan Huffman stated that she will recommend that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals grant Josiah Sutton's application for habeas corpus based upon his actual innocence of the crime for which he was convicted. The Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas' highest criminal court, is the only judicial authority that can actually grant Josiah's petition. Despite Judge Huffman's ruling today, and the faulty DNA evidence used to convict him, Josiah remains a convicted felon. Judge Huffman's ruling was a step in the right direction. An innocent person was sent to jail for a crime that he did not commit. When that happens, the state must have the courage to admit that the system made a mistake and try to fix it. Nobody can give Josiah back the years he lost in prison, but the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has the power and the duty to grant Josiah the pardon for innocence that he deserves, so he can began to rebuild his life. That should happen immediately. However, the Board has chosen to sit idly by, claiming that it is limited by self-imposed procedural guidelines, while Josiah and other innocent victims remain in legal limbo. It has been a year since Josiah was released from prison, yet his rights and freedom continue to elude him.

"The concern goes beyond that of Josiah's individual case. The incarceration of innocent persons is a threat to the integrity of our entire criminal justice system, and we should therefore take all steps to rectify the problem. The State of Texas should seek to create an innocence commission that would study what went wrong in cases like this, and make recommendations to improve the system so that things like this do not happen again."