Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘Innocence Project of Texas’

While we wait for a ruling in the Rick Perry case

This story about a group of big-name lawyers filing a brief in support of Rick Perry’s motion to dismiss the charges against him ran a week ago. I put off writing about it because it looked like we might get a ruling on the motions from Judge Bert Richardson, but since he’s still thinking about […]

John Bradley’s second act

Lisa Falkenberg brings a fascinating and unexpected update to the story of John Bradley, the former Williamson County DA and Texas Forensic Science Commissioner who served as one of the main villains in the Michael Morton case. Since losing elected office, Bradley has tried to find work. In 2012, I wrote about him applying to […]

How much will science advance in the courts?

It’s up to the CCA to decide. Texas’ highest criminal court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that could affect how evolving scientific evidence is used in courtrooms across the state. For Neal H. Robbins, the high court’s decision will determine whether he gets another shot at arguing his innocence. In 1999, a jury […]

More evidence of Cameron Willingham’s innocence

The scientific evidence against Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the arson deaths of his three children, has long been discredited. The other piece of evidence used against him at trial was the testimony of a jailhouse informer, who said that Willingham confessed to him. Now that piece of evidence is under […]

Ken Anderson accepts a plea deal

Some closure in the Michael Morton case. Former Williamson County State District Judge Ken Anderson, who oversaw the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton as a prosecutor, was sentenced to nine days in jail on Friday and will surrender his law license as part of a deal to resolve criminal charges and a civil lawsuit. […]

Jefferson pushes for judicial reforms

Most of what Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson had to say to the Lege during his biennial address was good stuff that I hope the Lege will heed. Presenting his State of the Judiciary speech to Texas lawmakers, Jefferson said that “wrongful convictions leave our citizens vulnerable, as actual perpetrators remain free” and […]

Court of inquiry concludes

The court of inquiry that was examining the behavior of then-prosecutor Ken Anderson has concluded with Anderson’s testimony in his defense. Having seen what he had to say for himself, I find myself not terribly sympathetic to him or his situation. At times fighting back tears, Anderson called Morton’s case his “worst nightmare” but defended […]

The court of inquiry

Going on this week is a court of inquiry in the matter of Williamson County Judge Ken Anderson, who was the District Attorney that won a conviction against Michael Morton for the murder of his wife, Christine, which as we know has since been overturned after DNA evidence cleared him and implicated another man. The […]

Arson review moving forward

Good. A long-awaited review of old Texas arson cases — an unprecedented search for wrongful convictions based on bad fire investigation science — is picking up speed and will probably produce the first results in January, participants said [last] Friday. One suspect case has been identified and about 26 others are being scrutinized for evidence […]

Why better eyewitness ID procedures matter

Because bad eyewitness ID procedures can lead to the wrong people being executed. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, stopped short of claiming Texas wrongfully executed suspect Carlos DeLuna for the February 1983 murder of store clerk Wanda Lopez. Gallego, however, said the way Corpus Christi police handled the suspect’s identification […]

“Open letter to Williamson County”

John Raley is the attorney who worked for years to exonerate Michael Morton on the charge of murdering his wife in 1987. The key to the case was a bloody bandana, which DNA testing showed belonged to the real killer. Williamson County DA John Bradley fought against allowing the DNA test to proceed at every […]

Court of inquiry appointed in Morton case

Maybe now we’ll get some answers. A special court will examine whether Georgetown District Judge Ken Anderson acted improperly when, as Williamson County’s district attorney in 1987, he prosecuted Michael Morton for a murder the authorities now acknowledge he did not commit. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson convened a court of inquiry Thursday […]

Meet the Houston Regional Forensic Science Center

Mayor Parker has revealed her vision for an independent regional crime lab. Mayor Annise Parker proposed on Wednesday taking control of the city’s crime lab away from the police department and handing it to an independent seven-member board with expertise in forensic science and fiscal management. “I clearly prefer to have our forensics sciences not […]

Court of inquiry recommended in Morton case

Good. Former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson should face a court of inquiry to examine allegations that he hid evidence that could have spared Michael Morton from a wrongful murder conviction and almost 25 years in prison, a state district judge ruled Friday. The finding means District Judge Sid Harle found probable cause to […]

“Beyond DNA”

The Dallas Observer has a good story about the state of the exoneration business now that most of the cases involving DNA have been handled. Since Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins took office in 2007, incidents of wrongfully convicted men being released from Texas prisons have become almost commonplace. Dramatic scenes of innocent men […]

It’s a long way to Damascus

The Trib has a good story about Williamson County DA John Bradley, whom you may recall as Rick Perry’s chief hatchet man on the Forensic Science Commission, and his apparent conversion to open-mindedness in the wake of the DNA exoneration of Michael Morton, who was convicted of murdering his wife in 1987 by Bradley’s predecessor […]

Moving on from the Willingham case

It’s time to move to the next phase and make something good happen. A state investigation into the science used to convict and execute Cameron Todd Willingham came to a quiet close Friday, but its results might echo across the justice system and the nation’s death penalty debate for years to come. Making final changes […]

AG rules Willingham case off limits for Forensic Science Commission

The last shovelful of dirt is thrown. The Texas Forensic Science Commission’s investigation of the science used to convict Cameron Todd Willingham — executed in 2004 for an arson that killed his three children — may be at an end after the state’s top attorney Friday ruled that the panel cannot consider evidence in cases […]

Dr. Peerwani and the Willingham case

Dr. Nizam Peerwani, the newly appointed Chair of the Forensic Science Commission, gets profiled in the Trib. Most of the story is about the history of the Willingham case, which the Commission finally sort of dealt with last year. With a smile and a friendly laugh, Dr. Nizam Peerwani offers coupons for free autopsies to […]

Forensic Science Commission bill approved, but not improved, by the Senate

I don’t know what happened with the bill to more clearly define the mission of the Forensic Science Commission, but it seems to have gone off track. Senate Bill 1658 would let the Texas Forensic Science Commission launch an investigation without having to wait for a complaint to be filed. “It is a positive improvement,” […]

The end of the Willingham case for the Forensic Science Commission

Dave Mann reads the Willingham report from the Forensic Science Commission so you don’t have to. The commission’s nearly 50-page report—the product of a high-profile, frequently stalled investigation—is an odd mix. It documents at length the flawed state of fire investigation in Texas and details in general terms the kinds of outdated evidence that led […]

An answer in the Claude Jones case

Back in June, I noted the case of Claude Jones, who had been executed in 2000 for a murder committed in 1990. The main piece of evidence used to convict him was a single strand of hair that a forensic expert who examined it under a microscope testified belonged to Jones. It was not subjected […]

So what did the Forensic Science Commission do?

I guess I wasn’t expecting this. A majority of the Texas Forensic Science Commission has tentatively concluded that there was no professional negligence or misconduct by arson investigators whose flawed work in a fatal Corsicana fire contributed to the conviction and 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. It would be wrong to punish investigators for […]

Claude Jones

Claude Jones was a Texas inmate who was executed ten years ago. He protested his innocence of the crime for which he was put to death till the end. Now we may get to see if he was telling the truth about that. Visiting Judge Paul C. Murphy this week ordered testing of a strand […]

Judge Fine’s ruling about the death penalty

I’m sure this will get a lot of attention. A Houston judge on Thursday granted a pretrial motion declaring the death penalty unconstitutional, saying he believes innocent people have been executed. “Based on the moratorium (on the death penalty) in Illinois, the Innocence Project and more than 200 people being exonerated nationwide, it can only […]

Tim Cole officially pardoned

This is a small bit of good to come out of a great injustice. The [Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles] sent a letter to Tim Cole’s attorney at the Innocence Project of Texas on Friday saying that it had voted to recommend clemency and forwarded its decision to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature. […]

Meet John Bradley

So today is the day that Sen. John Whitmire gets to grill Williamson County DA John Bradley, the new Chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, about his plans for the Commission and the status of the Willingham case. I very much look forward to hearing what Bradley has to say even if I have […]

Lawsuit filed over dog scent evidence

Three men have filed a federal lawsuit against Fort Bend Deputy Keith Pikett and his use of “evidence” gathered by scent dogs, which they say led to them being falsely accused of and imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. The men — Cedric Johnson, Curvis Bickham and Ronald Curtis — ask for compensatory and punitive […]

Two views of Willingham and Perry

Couple of good op-eds in the papers in the past few days concerning the Cameron Todd Willingham case. First, here’s State Sen. Rodney Ellis and Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project focusing on the forensics: In 2006, the Innocence Project brought the Willingham case to Texas’ Forensic Science Commission, which the state Legislature had created […]

Bradley dithers on Forensic Commission

This is an incredibly frustrating article about John Bradley, the handpicked new chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Bradley told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that he doesn’t know when the board will take up its investigations again. He said he needs time to review the commission’s two years’ worth of work and […]

It’s hard to get a conviction when there’s no evidence of a crime

The main bit of news in this AP story about the Todd Willingham case review is that the Texas Forensic Science Commission will be reviewing the Beyler report about the shoddy investigation of the fire on Friday. I hope, though the story doesn’t say, that this means it will be an open hearing at which […]

Perry sneers at Willingham evidence

This is exactly what I expect from Rick Perry. Governor Rick Perry today strenuously defended the execution of a Corsicana man whose conviction for killing his daughters in a house fire hinged on an arson finding that top experts call junk science. “I’m familiar with the latter-day supposed experts on the arson side of it,” […]

Yet another innocence frontier

Scent lineups. The Innocence Project of Texas said Friday that scent identification lineups, in which trained dogs determine if a suspect’s smell matches the smell of crime scene evidence, are based on faulty science and have led to a number of wrongful convictions. The group, which tries to free the wrongly convicted, said it will […]

More on the Willingham report

Now that the Texas Commission on Forensic Sciences has received its report on the botched investigation of Cameron Todd Willingham and the likelihood that he was convicted and executed for a non-crime, will that help improve forensic standards so that tragedies like this can be avoided in the future? Questions of investigators’ competence in the […]