Moody amends Texas Public Information Act bill to include important deceased suspects records measure

Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody succeeded in amending an open government bill Tuesday with his measure to close a Texas Public Information Act loophole that has allowed police to withhold records from the public when a suspect died in custody.

Moody prevailed in a vote to amend SB 944 by Sen. Kirk Watson and Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, which ultimately won preliminary House passage.

Numerous families have come to the Texas Capitol this session to tell of not being able to access records on how their loved ones died. They, along with news reporters and other citizens, have been denied records because a suspect died in custody and, thus, the case never ended in a conviction or deferred adjudication. That provision in the law was meant to protect the innocent who are still alive, but some law enforcement agencies have used it to hide records when a suspect died in custody.

Moody in his remarks to the House cited the preamble of the Public Information Act, that government is the servant, not the master, of the people.

“At the end of the day, people need the truth, even if it’s ugly and complicated and challenging,” he said.