From Morning Edition, NPR (2/23) (Wade Goodwyn) Some clips for future reference:
"Dallas' new district attorney, Craig Watkins, says he will open his files to the Innocence Project and work with the group to examine hundreds of cases over the past 30 years. The goal is to see whether DNA tests might reveal wrongful convictions. *** Watkins was elected the first black district attorney in Texas.***
"It's a whole different world in the Dallas criminal justice system," says defense attorney Gary Udashen. "It is a world where if a client of ours is innocent, we feel like there's openness in the District Attorney's office to hear what we have say, to look at what we have to show them, where we don't anticipate resistance every step of the way."
Udashen's firm alone has had seven Dallas clients who were convicted, sent to prison, exhausted their appeals and then ultimately — with the pro bono help of Udashen and his colleagues — were found to be innocent. ***Udashen says that Watkins has decided that defending wrongful convictions is not going to be part of the job.***
So Watkins is opening his files to the Texas Innocence Project. North Texas law students supervised by seven veteran former prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers will begin deciding which cases merit further investigation.
"In a state that is a national hotspot, Dallas is the hottest of the hotspots in state right now," says Jeff Blackburn, the Innocence Project's Texas director. "What'd happened in Dallas is that a lot of samples, unlike other any other parts of the state, were preserved, and they're still there."***
It would be safe to say that right now Dallas is on the edge of opening up in a very revealing way what the system in Texas is really all about," Blackburn says.