Sen. Joan Huffman was chewed out today by witnesses at a Senate hearing after she hit a nerve about whether the state is doing enough to fight wrongful convictions.
One of the witnesses was Cory Session, brother of Timothy Cole, the state’s only posthumous exoneree, who raised his voice at her and said he was “pissed off” and “sickened” at her opposition to a bill (HB 166) to establish a wrongful convictions panel.
Huffman was chairing the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice at the time, and she flat out dumped on the bill as unnecessary. Angered and agitated, Session ended his testimony by telling Huffman she needed to get another job, and he stormed off.
The emotion boiled over after a long recitation by Huffman, R-Houston, in which she listed the various justice reforms that the Legislature has passed over the past 12 years, essentially saying enough is enough. It was a tedious beatdown. Huffman may have thought supporters of the bill would be impressed and mollified, but some of them obviously were insulted by her tactic.
Huffman, a former judge, was addressing bill sponsor Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, who is carrying the House-passed bill in the Senate. The bill would create a panel to study wrongful convictions and recommend improvements in the justice system.
Next came the witnesses. Four exonerees and Session walked to the witness table, and Session went first. He reached a boil fast.
Click to read the rest of the post and Jones' transcription of the hearing.
You can also view the archived video of Tuesday's Senate Criminal Justice Committee meeting, using Real Player. Sen. Rodney Ellis begins testimony on HB 166 at about 2:33 into the hearing. You can slide the bar at the bottom of the screen to fast forward to that point.
Earlier coverage of the Committee meeting and this Texas legislative session begins at the