Rodger Jones, an editorial writer with the Dallas Morning News, is reporting on the Texas Death Penalty Blog that the Texas Forensic Science Commission has not endorsed a final report on the Cameron Todd Willingham investigation but rather has decided to invite a number of experts to attend a special meeting on November 19. Recent criticism of the commission has focused on members’ reliance on written reports rather than direct engagement and questioning of forensic experts, particularly the expert they hired to investigate this case, Dr. Craig Beyler. Read more.
Yesterday, the Houston Chronicle featured an op-ed from former Texas Governor Mark White (“Panel must clear the air in arson case investigation,” September 16, 2010), in which he called on the commission “to hold a fair and open hearing” on the Willingham investigation. Here’s an excerpt:
As someone who sought and secured the execution of Texans as attorney general, and someone who had the heavy responsibility of approving executions as governor, this case and others like it have convinced me that greater safeguards must be put in place to upgrade the reliability of forensic science evidence and the clemency process itself, or the innocent will surely be convicted and executed.
The Chronicle also features an editorial (“Texas Forensic Science Commission’s credibility at stake in Willingham probe,” September 16, 2010) focused on the way the commission has conducted itself in the wake of Governor Perry’s abrupt replacement of several members, including the chair, this time last year.
The editors note that “the majority of forensic professionals on the commission have a last chance today to take the politics out of the process and salvage a balanced analysis of the evidence.” Commission members appear to have seized that chance with their decision to hold off on a final report until they have the opportunity to speak directly with experts.