What is the Michael Morton Act and how does it affect my criminal case?

Texas Senate Bill 1611 (AKA the Michael Morton Act) became law – a law that promises to aid criminal defense attorneys and defendants in averting wrongful convictions before they happen.

Development of this legislation was prompted largely by the now-infamous wrongful conviction of Michael Morton, who served almost 25 years behind bars after being given a life sentence in 1987 for the murder of his wife – a conviction that likely would never have happened had the prosecutor in the case not withheld potentially exonerating evidence from defense counsel during the trial.

Under this new law, Texas district and county attorneys are required to be more open in sharing their files – hence, averting scenarios such as that which contributed to Morton’s conviction. Now defense counsel will have much more immediate and open access to prosecutors’ files – no longer having to solely rely upon disclosure or cooperation from prosecutors themselves.