HBA-AMW C.S.H.B. 2351 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.H.B. 2351 By: Hinojosa Criminal Jurisprudence 4/18/2001 Committee Report (Substituted) BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE A 1999 drug bust in Tulia, Texas led to the arrest of about 10 percent of the town's African-American residents based on the testimony of one undercover officer. Since the bust, concerns have been raised regarding the undercover investigation and the handling of the case. The charges against one of the defendants arrested in the drug bust have been dismissed and the undercover officer is under investigation by the United States Department of Justice. Current law does not require the testimony of an undercover officer used to convict a defendant to be corroborated by other evidence. C.S.H.B. 2351 provides that a conviction cannot be had on the testimony of an undercover officer or of a person acting covertly on behalf of a law enforcement agency or under the color of law enforcement unless the undercover officer meets certain requirements or there is appropriate corroborating evidence. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS C.S.H.B. 2351 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to prohibit a defendant from being convicted of a controlled substance offense on the testimony of an undercover peace officer or of a person acting covertly on behalf of a law enforcement agency or under the color of law enforcement unless the testimony is corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with the offense committed and to provide that the corroboration is not sufficient if the corroboration only shows the commission of the offense. The bill authorizes the corroboration to include the testimony of certain witnesses or the production of evidence of paraphernalia, fingerprints, audio or video recordings, or an effort to evade arrest. The bill does not require the corroboration of the testimony of an undercover peace officer who has been employed as a full-time peace officer for at least two years before the undercover operation leading to the arrest of the defendant, unless the undercover officer is participating in an undercover operation at or primarily involving the students of a school or institution of higher education, who holds a peace officer's license that has not been suspended or revoked at the time of the operation, and who during the operation complied with guidelines of the officer's agency or the Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education designed to ensure the reliability of the identification of the defendant as the person who the officer believes committed the offense. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001. COMPARISON OF ORIGINAL TO SUBSTITUTE C.S.H.B. 2351 modifies the original bill by adding definitions of "institution of higher education," "peace officer," and "school." The substitute differs from the original bill by prohibiting a defendant from being convicted of a controlled substance offense on the testimony of an undercover peace officer or of a person acting covertly on behalf of a law enforcement agency or under the color of law enforcement unless the testimony is corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with the offense committed rather than a conviction cannot be had upon the testimony of an undercover law enforcement officer unless corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with each element of the offense committed. The substitute modifies the original bill by limiting the offenses to which the provisions regarding the corroboration of testimony of an undercover peace officer apply to controlled substance offenses. The substitute adds provisions regarding types of corroborative evidence and certain undercover officers whose testimony does not require corroboration.