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 entirely. What was supposed to have been the end of the Willingham probe now seems just the beginning.
One reform advocate termed the days events “the revenge of the scientists.” Another advocate, Stephen Saloom of the Innocence Project, said the meeting “gives me great hope about where this investigation will lead.”
Indeed, commissioners today talked openly of digging into the systemic problem with arson cases. That’s a subject I’ve been writing about for two years, and it was a remarkable to hear commissioners move beyond Willingham to look at the wider problem. Several commissioners even suggested a wide-ranging re-examination of arson cases in Texas from the past 20 years.
That was a stunning development given how the day started.
The day started, of course, with Rick Perry’s hand-picked fixer attempting to ram through a report, written by himself of course, that took the state Fire Marshall off the hook for its shoddy work in 1991 and declared that there was nothing more to see here. The commissioners had none of it, and in the end carried the day. Read the whole thing, as Saloom says it’ll give you hope that something useful may yet come out of this melodrama.
UPDATE: Grits has more.