Texas should protect every phase of the trial process from junk science

SB 344 [ftp://ftp.legis.state.tx.us/bills/83R/billtext/html/senate_bills/SB00300_SB00399/SB00344F.htm], commonly described to as a “junk science” law, enables a court to overturn a conviction where it is more likely than not that the jury would have acquitted the accused if modern scientific knowledge had been available and presented at the time of trial.

SB 344 should be praised as a reasonable and just safeguard against Robinson failures (the Texas version of Daubert).  However, the relief afforded by SB 344 is limited to trial.  Unfortunately, junk science permeates more than just the trial phase.  For example, future dangerousness, which has largely been discredited as junk science [http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/1099], has often been used during the sentencing phase of capital crimes to justify the death penalty.  If junk science is a serious enough threat to permit convictions to be overturned (loss of liberty), surely it is a serious enough threat to justify thorough consideration of the credibility of scientific evidence presented during the penalty phase.  Especially where the death penalty is concerned (loss of life).

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