By Matt Kelley, Online Communications Manager, The Innocence Project
A Texas state panel was expected on Friday to discuss of the hot-button case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of murder based on flawed arson science and executed in 2004. Unfortunately, the case got just 15 minutes of a six-hour meeting, and the panel's chairman continues to choose bureaucracy and secrecy over real case work.
The Willingham case -- like countless other cases involving unvalidated forensics or outright misconduct -- requires a thorough, open investigation to repair broken forensic systems and prevent future injustice. Since becoming the Texas Forensic Science Commission (TFSC) chairman in October, prosecutor John Bradley has not demonstrated a desire to pursue these investigations, instead focusing on the commission's structure and procedures.
The Innocence Project formally submitted the Willingham case to the commission for review in 2006, and it was accepted in 2008, but a member of the panel said Friday that the commission's investigation of the case "is in its infancy." And now, Bradley says case-specific discussions will take place behind closed doors. Bradley appointed himself to serve on a four-member committee that will review the Willingham case in secret.
Critics have complained that Bradley has used his tenure to slow the commission's work and move it behind closed doors.