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Posts Tagged ‘Texas Forensic Science Commission’

Sonia Cacy

A long-time-coming story of actual innocence. A judge has ruled that Sonia Cacy, a West Texas woman convicted of setting her uncle on fire, is innocent of murder, basing his decision on new analysis of evidence presented at her 1993 trial. “The cumulation of evidence supports Applicant’s claim of actual innocence,” visiting state District Judge […]

More on DNA mixtures

Some good news here. Texas criminal justice organizations have begun reviewing thousands of cases that relied on an outdated method for calculating the odds that a particular person left DNA evidence at a crime scene. At issue are samples that include more than one person’s DNA, such as evidence swabbed from a countertop after a […]

DNA mixtures

Grits reports on the latest developments in forensics at a hearing of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, and what it means to the legal system in Texas and elsewhere. First, a bit of background. DNA testing looks at two metrics on X and Y axes: Whether alleles are present at various loci, and the quantity […]

Forensic Science Commission to examine bite mark evidence

Good. The board charged with ensuring that reliable scientific evidence is used in Texas courtrooms agreed on Friday to investigate cases in which bite mark analysis was used to secure a conviction. “We’re talking about the whole field, the validity of the field of bite marks,” said Dr. Vincent DiMaio, the chief presiding officer at […]

Is there any valid evidence of Todd Willingham’s guilt left?

The Washington Post has a long piece examining the connection between the jailhouse snitch whose testimony helped send Cameron Todd Willingham to death row and the prosecutor who has long denied taking any action to influence that testimony. For more than 20 years, the prosecutor who convicted Cameron Todd Willingham of murdering his three young […]

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 […]

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 […]

Beating Bradley

The Statesman writes about the aftermath of the GOP primary for District Attorney in Williamseon County where voters resoundingly threw out John Bradley. Michael Morton wasn’t on the ballot, didn’t campaign and didn’t back a candidate, but the recently exonerated former inmate cast a long shadow on the Williamson County district attorney race, becoming the […]

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 […]

Forensic Science Commission accepts its neutering

Another victory for the forces of obstructionism. Whether they like it or not, members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission [Thursday] agreed that they will use an attorney general’s opinion that severely limits the panel’s jurisdiction as a guideline for future investigations. What that means for the Cameron Todd Willingham investigation — the commission’s most […]

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 […]

Perry appoints Forensic, SBOE Chairs

The new SBOE Chair is not who I expected. State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, will take the helm as the board’s new chairwoman, Gov. Rick Perry announced Friday. She will follow Gail Lowe, who was appointed chairwoman two years ago but did not win Senate confirmation during the just-concluded legislative session. […]

Bradley and Lowe fail to get confirmed

Time for some new chairpersons. Gov. Rick Perry’s appointments of John Bradley as head of the Forensic Science Commission and Gaile Lowe as State Board of Education chair are officially toast, Senate Nominations Chairman Bob Deuell, R-Greenville said. “They’re sine die with the rest of us — except they won’t have to come back for […]

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,” […]

Two forensic bills

Texas has thousands of untested rape kits in it, and a bill to try to make something happen with them. The bill, by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would require a police department to submit a rape kit to a crime lab within at least 10 days, and complete the DNA analysis no later than […]

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 […]

Draft Willingham report is out

Postcards: A draft report issued today by the Texas Forensic Science Commission on the evidence used to convict and execute Cameron Todd Willingham focuses on training and education initiatives for fire investigators and makes several suggestions for continued improvement for investigations. The report, as expected, takes pains to say that it does not comment on […]

Bradley’s mission nears its completion

John Bradley won’t get confirmed by the Senate as the Chair of the Forensic Science Commission, but that’s all right. The purpose for which he was put on the Commission by Rick Perry is about to be fulfilled. Perry, who refused to block Cameron Todd Willingham’s lethal injection in 2004, appointed Williamson County prosecutor John […]

The Willingham arson investigator

The Statesman has a good story about former Deputy State Fire Marshal Manuel Vasquez, whose testimony helped convict Cameron Todd Willingham, and the status of the Willingham case with the Forensic Science Commission. Spurred by John Bradley, the Williamson County prosecutor who was appointed chairman by Gov. Rick Perry midway through the case, the commission […]

Two Republican Senators oppose Bradley’s nomination to the Forensic Science Commission

Excellent. The confirmation of Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley as chairman of the state Forensic Science Commission appears to be in deep trouble, as two Senate Republicans confirmed today that they will vote no. That would leave Bradley four votes short of the required 21 needed to bring his name up for a Senate […]

Bradley’s nomination to Forensic Science Commission may be dead

Peggy Fikac brings the good news. It’s not looking good for John Bradley, the tough-talking prosecutor named by Republican Gov. Rick Perry to head the Forensic Science Commission – and not just because of Democratic opposition to his appointment. “The Democrats are not going to vote for him, and there are two Republicans that are […]

Bradley’s confirmation delayed

Good. In a bid to diffuse a partisan showdown, the name of Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley was temporarily stricken this morning from a list of nominees to be submitted to the full Senate for confirmation. […] Nominations Committee Chairman Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, said [earlier] that he plans to submit the list of Monday’s […]

Bradley gets committee approval

Can’t say I’m surprised. The Senate Nominations Committee voted 4-2 today to recommend approving state forensic board chairman John Bradley’s appointment. Sens. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, and Kirk Watson, D-Austin, voted against Bradley’s nomination. Four Republicans voted in favor; other, less-controversial nominees were approved unanimously. State Sen. Rodney Ellis landed a few blows on Bradley, […]

Time for the Senate to go after John Bradley

Grits: Governor Rick Perry’s appointees to the Texas Forensic Science Commission are up in the Senate Nominations Committee [today]. Senators should use the forum to force Commission Chairman John Bradley to answer all the questions he’s dodged in the past – especially about the ways in which he’s delayed or shut down all the Commission’s […]

Can we please get back to the basics?

The ongoing saga of the Texas Forensic Science Commission: Adding an unexpected twist to its investigation of the science used to convict and execute Cameron Todd Willingham for arson murder, the Texas Forensic Science Commission voted Friday to seek an attorney general opinion on the limits of its jurisdiction. The commission is examining allegations, made […]

Forensic Science Commission finally hears Willingham testimony

If you were hoping the state of Texas would be open to changing how arson investigations should be done, then the hearing was a disappointment. Still, some good things happened. Speaking at a special meeting of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which is examining the science used to convict Willingham, the invited experts had little […]

Willingham documentary

From the Trib: As you’re reading this, Steve Mims and Joe Bailey Jr. are putting the finishing touches onIncendiary, a new documentary about theCameron Todd Willingham case that focuses almost entirely on forensics — on the science behind arson investigations like the one that led to the Corsicana man’s arrest, conviction and execution following the […]

Pity poor John Bradley

It’s a truly beautiful thing to see the guy who was brought in to the Texas Forensic Science Commission for the express purpose of protecting Governor Perry’s political interests wail and moan about the Commission becoming a “political football” now that it’s clear he cannot control the other commissioners. The strategy, hatched back when Perry […]

The scientists have rebelled

Wow. When seven [members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission] met at a hotel near Dallas’ Love Field, the ostensible goal was to finalize their report on the Willingham case. But from the start, the forensic scientists on the panel fought Bradley at every step. By the end, the tenor of the meeting had changed […]

Fire marshal clings to Willingham arson report

Oh, give it up, already. The State Fire Marshal’s Office stands behind its controversial conclusion that Cameron Todd Willingham started the house fire that killed his three children in 1991, contradicting arson experts and scientists who insist the agency relied on bad science in its investigation. In a pointed letter to the Texas Forensic Science […]

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 […]

John Bradley is a political hack: Film at 11

John Bradley, the District Attorney for Williamson County and the hand-picked-by-Rick-Perry Chair of the Forensic Science Commission, continues to be the single biggest impediment to the Commission doing the job it was specifically created to do. In an op-ed on these pages last November, Bradley denied charges that his actions were politically motivated and decried […]