JEFFERSON CITY — The following is a statement from Sen. John Rizzo (D-Independence) regarding the ruling by the Western District Court of Appeals in the case of Kevin Strickland:
“I worked hand in hand with the nonpartisan Missouri Prosecuting Attorneys Association in writing the provisions of Senate Bill 53 & 60 that empower local prosecutors to overturn wrongful convictions based on new evidence. Our new law intentionally DID NOT grant the Missouri attorney general standing to file motions pertaining to the evidentiary hearing. Our law clearly and concisely outlines what limited role the attorney general has in this new process, including the ability to ‘appear, question witnesses, and make arguments’ during the evidentiary hearing. This is an important role and I hope the attorney general uses it as intended.
“However, nowhere in this limited role is it stated the attorney general has the power to file motions as implied by the Western District Court of Appeals. This ruling creates new powers out of thin air while ignoring both the letter of the law and the legislative intent behind it. By ignoring the legislative intent and the statutory language, the Western District Court of Appeals is setting dangerous legal precedent that the attorney general is using to needlessly delay justice for the wrongfully imprisoned.”