News 10.27.09

Report: Forensic Board Replacements Weren’t Routine


A new report from Texas Tribune and Texas Weekly

finds that Gov. Rick Perry’s move last month to replace several members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission wasn’t a standard practice, as Perry has claimed.

Perry said he removed the forensic commissioners because their terms had expired, suggesting it was a coincidence that the replacements came 48 hours before the panel’s scheduled meeting to consider the arson evidence in the case of

Cameron Todd Willingham

.

But the Texas Tribune / Texas Weekly report, compiled from documents obtained through the state’s open-records act, shows that many appointed commissioners in the state are not replaced when their terms expire. At the time Perry removed the forensic commissioners, more than 100 other appointees around the state were serving past their terms. They averaged 100 days past their expiration date, and some were more than a year past expiration, records show.

"These numbers are disturbing because, contrary to what Gov. Perry said, it was not a regular practice to remove these commissioners so quickly and on the verge of a very important hearing," Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck told reporters. "It's more evidence that Gov. Perry's actions were not to get to the scientific truth of the matter but were self serving and calculated for political advantage."

Another story

in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram today

examines the specifics of the arson investigation and evidence in the case, from flashover to puddle patterns to crazed glass, and finds that outdated practices were used to investigate the fire that killed Willingham’s daughters. Investigators used several “indicators” to seem the fire arson, and scientists no longer use those techniques because they are inaccurate and unreliable.    

 

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