Posted: January 26, 2011 4:55 PM
What made the decision extraordinary is that the commission from the beginning has been guided by Barbara Dean, a senior member of the attorney general's staff who faithfully attended commission meetings and regularly offered legal opinions.Up to this point, most delays in the commission’s investigation have come from Chairman John Bradley’s opposition to hearing expert testimony. If the question of jurisdiction is a real concern, Dean should have addressed that several meetings ago rather than impede the commission’s work yet again.
But the seven scientists on the nine-member body have repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected Bradley's strictures. The unanimity of the vote suggests that a serious legal issue was raised in the secret session.The main reason the TFSC was formed in the first place was to strengthen the use of forensic science in criminal investigations.
My guess is that the issue was brought by either the city of Corsicana or the fire marshal's office, or both.
If I'm right, we are watching an ugly spectacle of two law enforcement agencies, unable to marshal science on their side, aggressively fighting against science with lawyers.
There is no reason to exclude arson from the scope of the commission, since scores of people sit in our prisons based on arson investigators' testimony.Learn more about Cameron Todd Willingham.
It is frightening that even though they can't produce a scientist who doesn't believe the Willingham arson investigation was botched, both the Corsicana Police Department and the State Fire Marshal's Office maintain that it was a good investigation.
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