It’s a start, but it’s not much more than that.
Meeting for the first time since January, the nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission voted to obtain and review the complete transcript of the capital murder trial of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting the December 1991 Corsicana house fire in which his three young children perished.
Commissioners also agreed to renew contact with Baltimore fire expert Craig Beyler, who, in a commission-sponsored review last fall, criticized the arson investigations of Texas Deputy Fire Marshal Manuel Vasquez and Corsicana Fire Chief Doug Fogg.
Commission members on Friday voted to create the Willingham and other subcommittees, but an earlier configuration of the Willingham panel — Bradley, Peerwani and Kerrigan — met earlier this month in private to discuss the case.
The state’s open meetings law does not require the subcommittee to meet publicly, but Bradley said the meetings could be opened to the public if members desire.
Asked if he favored allowing the public to attend such sessions, Bradley responded, “No,” adding that all matters discussed in the closed sessions ultimately would be revealed at regular commission meetings.
A full liveblog of the hearing by Rodger Jones is here. What really matters, as Grits and Dave Mann in addition to Jones point out, is that the Willingham subcommittee can do its work in secret. Whatever happens, the public won’t get to see it or have any input on it until it’s too late. Which is no doubt what Bradley, being a good and loyal foot soldier to Rick Perry, had in mind all along. The Statesman, the DMN, and EoW have more.
UPDATE: Scott Cobb comments:
Anyone who believes that all committee meetings of the Texas Forensic Science Commission should be public and not private, secret closed door meetings, should write commission Chair John Bradley and other Commission members urging them to make the meetings public and to post notices on the Commission website of when and where the subcommittee meetings will take place.
I second that.