I’ve read a bunch of coverage of Governor Perry’s conveniently-timed decision to replace members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission just before they were scheduled to review the Beyler report on the Cameron Todd Willingham arson investigation, and one thing is clear to me. If Perry really wants us to believe that this is “business as usual, naming new appointments to a commission after their terms have expired” and had nothing to do with his own erroneous notions about the case, there’s a very simple thing his hand-picked replacement, Williamson County DA John Bradley, can do.
Beyler was to address the commission Friday, but Bradley canceled the meeting to familiarize himself with the agency’s work, he said.
“I’ve got so much homework to do, I feel like I’m starting the first day of high school,” said Bradley, who added that he had not yet read Beyler’s report.
Fine, then. Read the report, familiarize yourself with Dr. Beyler’s findings, and then re-schedule the damn meeting. When you say stuff like this, it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that you intend to let the facts come out.
Bradley said he learned of the appointment Wednesday morning when he was called by the governor’s office. He said it was not a position he sought.
He said he canceled Friday’s commission meeting because he thought “it was too much to ask for myself and the new members to absorb,” and because he wanted time to review the Beyler report and materials.
Bradley said he is not yet “informed enough” to know if he would ask Beyler to present his report at a future meeting or continue the line of questioning begun unanimously by the commission.
“I just know it’s going to keep my weekend busy,” Bradley said.
If you have any respect for the Commission and its members, then your unfamiliarity with the Beyler report should not prevent you from making a commitment to hold the hearing that was scheduled for tomorrow at another time. You don’t have to set a date yet, but a simple statement that once you have spent the weekend boning up on the materials you will put it back on the calendar forthwith would offer reassurance that this isn’t about politics. Give Dr. Beyler a call – it’s just common courtesy, after all – to check what his schedule is like, and to let him know that you look forward to hearing from him in a few weeks. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask.
UPDATE: Here’s a statement from Hank Gilbert that I missed yesterday, and a good post from Dog Canyon that posits Perry will make this about opposition to the death penalty, rather than pursuing the facts wherever they take us.