Senator Ellis – Posthumous Pardon A “Bittersweet Victory”
March 1, 2010

 Earlier I posted a notice from the office of   Governor Rick Perry.  Today he issued a posthumous pardon for Timothy Cole, who died in prison, after being convicted of a crime he did not commit. (you can read that post below)

State Senator Rodney Ellis has issued a statement calling the pardon a bittersweet victory. Sen. Ellis  has fought long and hard for this day and worked closely with Tim’s family.  

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.

Gov. Perry Grants Posthumous Pardon for Innocence to Tim Cole
March 1, 2010

 

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today granted a posthumous pardon for innocence to Tim Cole after receiving a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

“I have been looking forward to the day I could tell Tim Cole’s mother that her son’s name has been cleared for a crime he did not commit,” Gov. Perry said. “The State of Texas cannot give back the time he spent in prison away from his loved ones, but today I was finally able to tell her we have cleared his name, and hope this brings a measure of peace to his family.”

Cle was serving a 25 year sentence for aggravated sexual assault of Michele Jean Murray when he died from an asthma attack in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Dec. 2, 1999. DNA testing later proved he was innocent. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend the posthumous pardon for innocence. Additionally, Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney Matthew Powell and Lubbock Chief of Police Dale Holton have written letters in support of a posthumous pardon. The victim has also supported Tim Cole’s family in obtaining his exoneration.

The authority for a governor to grant a posthumous pardon was uncertain until Jan. 7, 2010, when Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion stating that a governor may grant a posthumous pardon.