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Indigent Caseloads, Michael Morton, and Third Ward Mural: Houston Matters for Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

You’ve heard this part of the Miranda rights before (if not in person, then at least on TV crime dramas): “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you…” Well, a lot of defendants can’t afford attorneys. That’s where public defenders come in, and sometimes private […]

You’ve heard this part of the Miranda rights before (if not in person, then at least on TV crime dramas): “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you…”

Well, a lot of defendants can’t afford attorneys. That’s where public defenders come in, and sometimes private attorneys assigned by the courts, who agree to work pro bono.

The Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M recently published a report on behalf of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. The report examines the caseloads of court-appointed clients’ criminal defense attorneys in Texas are asked to take on. It was initiated by a bill (HB 1318) passed last session by the Texas Legislature.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we learn about the report from Texas Indigent Defense Commission Executive Director James Bethke. We also hear from State Senator Rodney Ellis about legislative efforts to address indigent defense caseloads.

Also this hour: a look at criminal injustice. Houston Matters’ Michael Hagerty talks with Texan Michael Morton, author of Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace. In it, Morton recounts the 1986 murder of his wife, and how he became the prime suspect, was convicted, and sentenced to life in prison…until DNA evidence finally set him free. Morton’s holding a book signing at Brazos Bookstore Tuesday night (1/27) at 7:00 p.m..

And: Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse talks with artist Anat Ronen about her mural on the side of the Third Ward’s Blackshear Elementary School, and its depiction of area residents.

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