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Relating to the representation of certain indigent applicants for a writ of habeas corpus.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 372 would require a court to appoint an attorney for an indigent applicant for a writ of habeas corpus if the state attorney believes they have a potentially meritorious claim. The bill would add two new circumstances to the definition of a potentially meritorious claim: the likelihood that the defendant is actually innocent of the offense or that they were convicted in violation of the Texas or United States constitutions. The appointed attorney would be required to investigate the defendant's claim in addition to representing them.
Texas Action supports HB 372 because it would strengthen the constitutional right to an attorney for inmates seeking habeas corpus relief. Indigent defendants with actual claims of innocence or wrongful conviction should not be denied representation while those with resources regain their freedom. HB 372 would provide needed representation to such inmates, potentially ending the unlawful incarceration of several Texans.