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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, which I’m sure made for entertaining viewing. The full Senate still needs to confirm Bradley, and as with Don McLeroy and the SBOE last session, I would not at all be unhappy with his nomination being blocked by the Democrats. Frankly, I think Grits’ suggestion that the Forensic Science Commission pick its own Chair has a lot of merit. Perhaps there’s room for a deal in there. Dave Mann has more.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement from Sen. Ellis:

Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today urged the Texas Senate to reject the nomination of Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley for the remainder of his term as Chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission. The Senate Nominations committee voted 4-2 to send Mr. Bradley’s nomination for consideration by the full Senate.

“The Legislature created the Forensic Science Commission to ensure we have forensic evidence we can trust in our courtrooms –in order to increase public safety and the public faith in justice system,” said Senator Ellis. “Unfortunately, since Mr. Bradley has taken the reins, rather than move the commission forward to look into allegations, find the truth, and repair problems in our broken justice system; the Commission has invested most of its time and energy finding ways to avoid looking into problems and looking for loopholes to block the commission from doing what it was created to do.”

In 2005, the Legislature created the Texas Forensic Science Commission to restore public faith in forensic evidence following the discovery that a series of serious errors called into question evidence in hundreds of cases across the state. The commission is yet to complete a single investigation. In 2009, just as the Commission was poised to begin completing its first investigation — a review of the evidence used to convict and sentence to death Todd Willingham — Mr. Bradley was appointed Chair of the Commission.

The Commission is still yet to complete any investigation.

After boasting that he knew nothing about the Commission, Mr. Bradley’s first move was to unilaterally cancel that meeting, stunning the public and policymakers, as well as his fellow Commission members. According to press reports, Mr. Bradley then ordered all Commissioners to delete their Commission-related emails, and declared that he wouldn’t let the Commission meet until he had time to learn more about it. Mr. Bradley displayed a shocking lack of objectivity in his work by declaring to the press that “Willingham is a guilty monster,” a clearly inappropriate statement from the Chair of a state Commission tasked to provide independent, expert investigations of allegations of forensic negligence or misconduct.

“We wanted independent experts to form a lean, efficient, and non-paid publicly review allegations of problems, investigate them, and report to the public about what it had found so that the public and thus all jurors could regain faith in forensic evidence – and thus convict the guilty and not convict the innocent,” Ellis said. “Sadly, Mr. Bradley has used his position to seize power over and thwart the will of the expert Commission, hide the Commission’s work from public view, greatly increase the Commission’s bureaucratic bloat, slow its previously impressive progress to a crawl, and otherwise prevent the Commission from accomplishing the legislature’s intent.”

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