SB 8 Creates a Crime Laboratory Review Commission to independently review the operations of crime laboratories in the state of Missouri that receive state-administered funding
Sponsor: Champion
LR Number: 0194S.02P Fiscal Note: 0194-02
Committee: Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence
Last Action: 4/29/2009 - HCS Voted Do Pass H Public Safety Committee Journal Page:
Title: SCS SB 8 Calendar Position:
Effective Date: August 28, 2009

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Current Bill Summary


HCS/SCS/SB 8 - This act creates two new review commissions.

This act creates a "Crime Laboratory Review Commission" to independently review the operations of crime laboratories in the state of Missouri that receive state-administered funding.

The commission shall consist of five members, including a senior manager of an accredited crime lab, a prosecuting attorney, a criminal defense attorney, a licensed law enforcement officer employed by a county or municipality in a management position, and the director of the Department of Public Safety or a designee. The commission members shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The members shall serve terms of four years and the chairman shall be the director of the department or his or her designee. In the event the commission takes a vote concerning only a particular crime laboratory, the appointee serving as a senior crime laboratory manager or law enforcement officer shall recuse himself or herself from such vote if it involves the crime laboratory employing such manager or a crime laboratory operated by the municipality employing the officer.

The commission shall have the power to assess the capabilities and needs of the crime labs, authorize independent external investigations into allegations of misconduct or negligence, issue reprimands to crime labs and their employees or contractors found to be negligent or engaging in misconduct, make recommendations for crime lab procedure when labs are found to be negligent, and issue reports summarizing findings of negligence or misconduct and making recommendations regarding revocation or suspension of grant funding.

The commission shall submit an annual report to the department of public safety and to the governor making recommendations to improve the quality management systems within the crime laboratories in the state, but shall not make recommendations related to relocation or consolidation of such crime laboratories.

The Department of Public Safety shall have the authority to revoke grant money from a crime lab if it does not cooperate with the commission or if allegations of serious negligence or misconduct are substantiated by the commission.

This act creates a ten-member commission to study the death penalty in Missouri. It shall include two members of the House of Representatives with one from each party, two members from the Senate with one from each party, a county prosecutor appointed by the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, a criminal defense lawyer appointed by the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the state public defender, the attorney general, a murder victim's family member and a family member of a person on death row, both appointed by the department of corrections. The commission shall be comprised equally of people in favor and opposed to the death penalty and shall be appointed by December 1, 2009.

The commission is required to hold public hearings and study all aspects of the death penalty as administered in Missouri, including all cases in which the death penalty was sought. Through the use of random sampling, the commission will review a statistical representation of those cases in which charges of first degree murder, second degree murder, or voluntary manslaughter were filed after January 1, 1977. The review and analysis shall examine data concerning the facts of the offenses, the county where charges were filed, the charges originally filed, the crime for which the person was convicted, the sentence, personal information about the convicted person, evidence of mental illness, prior criminal history of the defendant, information about the legal defense team and prosecuting team, the body of evidence used to obtain a conviction, results of appellate review and post-conviction review, and costs for implementing the sentence.

In considering the experience and training of attorneys, the commission shall consider the experience and training levels required by the Missouri Supreme Court, other courts and legislatures, and recommendations of national associations.

The commission shall study whether alternatives to the death penalty exist that ensure public safety and address other social and penological interests. The findings and recommendations of the commission shall be reported to the Governor, the Missouri Supreme Court, and the General Assembly by January 1, 2012.

The commission shall recommend any proposed modifications to Missouri law necessary to ensure: 1) defendants sentenced to death are indeed guilty of first degree murder, 2)adequacy of trial and appellate legal counsel, 3) accuracy of findings of guilt of the accused, 4) race is not impermissibly a factor in determining implementation of the death penalty, 5) adequate appellate and post-conviction procedures exist to remedy errors at trial, and 5) prosecutors throughout the state use similar criteria to determine whether to seek the death penalty.

This act is similar to SB 790 (2008), SCS/SB 321 (2009), and a provision of CCS/SS/SCS/HCS/HB 62 (2009).

SUSAN HENDERSON MOORE