News 10.10.14

Texas Commission Goes Behind Closed Doors

An update from Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom from the Texas Forensic Science Commission meeting in Houston:

The Commission went into executive session this morning to discuss legal issues surrounding

the unsigned legal memo they received about the Commission’s jurisdiction

. We raised numerous concerns about that unsigned memo in

a memo that the Innocence Project sent Commissioners

.

The good news is that we seem to have forced questions about the legal analysis in that Commission memo, and with any luck the Commissioners will ask who actually wrote that memo. Because, given that it’s a legal analysis, one would think it would have been written by the Commission’s de facto general counsel, Barbara Deane from the Attorney General’s office. But she just clearly stated that she didn’t. So actually there are two questions: Why didn’t the Commission get its requested legal analysis from its general counsel, and if it’s not from her – or the defense lawyer on the Commission, who also suggested that he wasn’t the author – then who exactly wrote it? The Chairman? The counsel to DPS (which would have a clear conflict of interest, as their labs are subject to Commission jurisdiction)? Or, for some reason, the counsel to the Office of Court Administration (for some unknown reason?

 

It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this session.  I trust the Commissioners will see through a lot of what’s been thrown at them, but we can only hope.

 

Also interesting is the Chairman’s assertion that the Commission has stuck with the Willis/Willingham investigation, and given no one any reason to question that.  One obvious question would be:  Why, then, has the Commission taken no public action on this already-underway investiation for the entire 9 months since he unilaterally and abruptly stopped it dead in its tracks upon being appointed Chairman.   If he’s to meet his suggestion that the investigation is still on track, they’ll need to resume action on that allegation today… and move swiftly from here on out.  That, too, remains to be seen….

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