Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
March 1, 2010
Contact: Tina Tran, (512) 463-0113

Tim Cole Finally Pardoned

(Austin, TX)—Timothy Cole was pardoned today, more than ten years after he died in a Texas prison for a rape he did not commit. Tim was officially exonerated in April 2009 by Judge Charles Baird.

"Although the wheels of justice turn slowly, they do eventually take us to our desired destination. While Tim didn't get justice in his lifetime, today he was vindicated, his name was cleared, and he finally got the justice he has so long deserved. I congratulate Tim's family – Cory Session, his brother; Ruby Session, his mother; and all his other family members – for this bittersweet victory," said Sen. Rodney Ellis.

The pardon comes after the Attorney General issued an opinion in January 2010 affirming that the governor has the power to issue posthumous pardons. Senator Rodney Ellis requested the opinion on July 14 in the hopes of giving the Governor latitude to issue a pardon of innocence for Timothy Cole. Sen. Ellis also tried to pass a constitutional amendment specifically granting the governor such authority, but it failed to pass the 2009 legislature.

"While this is the first posthumous pardon in Texas, we have a long way to go if we are going to make sure it is the last. The quality of indigent defense needs to be improved. We need to look at the quality of forensic evidence being admitted into our courts, especially eyewitness identification evidence. Tim's wrongful conviction was due to the use of faulty eyewitness identification procedures, the most frequent cause of wrongful convictions in Texas and the rest of the country. Every law enforcement agency in Texas should have written eyewitness identification procedures based on best practices, but unfortunately only 12 percent have any written procedures at all," noted Sen. Ellis.

Sen. Ellis authored and sponsored legislation bearing Tim Cole's name that was enacted in 2009, including legislation to establish the Tim Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions, and the Tim Cole Act, which increased compensation for persons who were wrongfully convicted.

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