Appeals court suspends Willingham court inquiry

This happened late last week.

An Austin appeals court has ordered Judge Charlie Baird to halt his inquiry into whether Cameron Todd Willingham was wrongfully executed in 2004 and whether there is probable cause that state officials committed a crime in their handling of Willingham’s case prior to his execution.

The Austin American-Statesman obtained an order by the 3rd Court of Appeals from the court clerk just prior to 5 p.m. today, after Baird heard several hours of testimony on the case. By that time, Willingham’s lawyers had announced that they were through presenting evidence.

Before Baird closed the hearing, former Gov. Mark White said that Willingham should be posthumously exonerated.

“The state of the testimony that convicted him has been impugned today,” said White, who said. “Every shred of evidence points conclusively to his innocence.”

Baird said he would take the case under advisement and issue formal findings of fact at a later date if they that is warranted.

Dave Mann has a good report of what actually happened at the hearing before the Appeals Court suspended matters, Grits reviews the politics of the matter, and the Stand Down blog rounds up coverage of the story. I don’t know what will happen at this point, but I feel pretty confident saying we’d be paying less attention to this now if Governor Perry and his henchman John Bradley hadn’t expended so much effort trying to keep the lid on it. Justice is slow, but usually it eventually arrives.

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