New Year marks the beginning of new Texas laws

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POSTED: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - 6:09pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 - 6:53pm

El Paso DA's Office cited as model for Michael Morton Act

A New Year means dozens of new laws will go into effect throughout the Borderland. Almost fifty different laws went into effect in the state of Texas and several of them will likely impact El Pasoans whether you know it or not.

One of the most sweeping laws going into effect in 2014 is the Michael Morton Act, also known as Senate Bill 1611. The law requires prosecutors to give the lawyer representing a defendant in a criminal case any evidence that is relevant to the defense case. El Paso has been credited in being a model for the law.

Morton was wrongly convicted for the murder of his wife in 1986, who was beaten to death in their suburban north Austin home while their 3-year-old son was home.

The Williamson County District Attorney at the time, Ken Anderson, was accused of deliberately withholding evidence that would have cleared Morton in the case. Anderson pleaded no contest to a court order to show cause for withholding evidence in the case. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and agreed to a $500 fine and 500 hours of community service as well as the loss of his law license.

Morton was freed in 2011 after serving nearly 25 years for the wrongful conviction. The Michael Morton Act, now a law in the state of Texas creates an open file of evidence in the entire state of Texas.

For a list of all forty-seven laws and what they mean for you, please visit the Texas Legislature's website.

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