The Texas Forensic Science Commission has been holding meetings for more than a year to investigate whether professional negligence or misconduct played a role in the forensic evidence that led to Cameron Todd Willingham’s arson conviction and whether other people are serving time in Texas prisons under similarly faulty evidence.
Since the Innocence Project filed the Willingham complaint in 2006, the commission has heard from an expert panel of forensic scientists and met several times to discuss the case, but it has not issued findings in its investigation. The TFSC has delayed once again. This time, members of the forensic oversight panel are asking the Attorney General’s opinion on the scope of their authority over the case, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“This is clearly someone’s legal effort to prevent the commission from doing what the Legislature had intended for it to do,” said Stephen Saloom, policy director for the Innocence Project in New York.
Saloom said the request for yet another legal opinion was “overkill.” He said that Barbara Deane, an attorney in the attorney general’s office, has been present at all commission meetings and executive sessions since the commission was formed.
“She was there for the purpose of the commission to be in compliance with state law, and at least tacitly, if not explicitly, approved their authority to investigate,” he said.
The Star-Telegram reports that the commission’s main question is whether it has the ability to investigate cases in which “the evidence underlying the forensic analysis was tested or offered into evidence” years before the commission was created in September 2005.
Depending on the AG’s answer, the commission could be forced to abandon its Willingham investigation altogether.
The TFSC will next meet on April 15.
Learn more about the case at the
Willingham Resource Page