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Jenny's Law

Another new Texas law that took effect on September 1st was drafted by Democratic Texas Senator John Whitmire of Houston places restrictions on the practice of jailing a witness in a criminal case to insure they will testify. The incident which inspired what is called Jenny’s Law took place in HarrisCountywhere a mentally ill sexual assault victim was put in jail for nearly a month to insure her testimony against the alleged serial rapist who attacked her. The woman was attacked again in jail. Liberty County District Attorney Logan Pickett said he understands the reasoning behind holding witnesses for their testimony though the ends do not always justify the means. Jenny’s Law received almost universal bi-partisan support it the Texas Legislature. The law applies to Liberty County’s Court System as well as those in all Texas Counties. First, the new law requires a detained witness be appointed an attorney to represent them and that their detainment hearings be held in open court- not in judge’s chambers as has been the practice. Jenny’s Law is intended to extend to witnesses in criminal trials who have committed no crime, the same rights that are already given to those who have been charged with a crime. Further, no detained witness can be held for more than 15 days at a time without a rehearing. Liberty County DA Logan Pickett said it is a good law. He said the sad part is that too often good laws only get passed after something bad has happened. 

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