Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
On July 22, 2021, a bipartisan group of former state and federal prosecutors, represented by States United Democracy Center, Cooley LLP and Susman Godfrey LLP, filed an amicus brief in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in support of Crystal Mason, a Tarrant County woman who is appealing her conviction for illegal voting. The former prosecutors argue that her prosecution was “far outside the bounds of any reasonable exercise of prosecutorial power.” Ms. Mason cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 election, believing she was eligible to vote. State election officials determined that she was not eligible to vote because she was, at the time, on supervised release for a federal conviction. Her ballot was not counted. County prosecutors charged Ms. Mason with illegal voting, despite her lack of knowledge that she was ineligible, and despite the absence of intent or any harm.
The brief lays out how the prosecution of Ms. Mason is inconsistent with Texas’s illegal voting statute and with the fundamental principles of prosecutorial discretion. Her prosecution also risks seriously undermining an already vulnerable public trust in the criminal justice system. The brief is signed by a bipartisan group of eleven prominent former prosecutors from Texas and around the country, including: Donald B. Ayer, Gregory A. Brower, Paul Coggins, John Farmer, Jonathan S. Feld, Sarah R. Saldaña, Richard H. Stephens, Matthew D. Orwig, Joyce White Vance, William F. Weld, and Grant Woods. The case is ongoing, awaiting a decision from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.