News 10.07.09

Texas Commission on Hold, Members Urged Perry to Reappoint Chairman

Texas district attorney John Bradley, the new chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, told a reporter yesterday that he doesn’t know when the panel will resume its work of evaluating forensic evidence in state cases.

And media reports today show that at least three members of the panel had asked Gov. Rick Perry to reappoint chairman Sam Bassett in September. As regular readers know, Perry did not comply with these requests, instead replacing Bassett last week with Bradley, the DA in Williamson County. In his first act as the new chairman, Bradley cancelled a meeting scheduled for last Friday at which arson expert Craig Beyler was expected to discuss his review of evidence in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004.

Bradley told

The Dallas Morning News

on Tuesday that he doesn't know when the board will take up its investigations again. He said he needs time to review the commission's two years' worth of work and to study the role of its members and the process they should use in moving forward.

"It is too important as a symbolic case, and as much as a real case, for us not to finish that work," Bradley said of the Willingham case. "But at the same time, I want to make sure the work is done in a way that is professional and has utmost integrity."

And

TIME Magazine

reported yesterday that members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission wrote to Gov. Rick Perry in September, urging him to reappoint Sam Bassett as the chairman of the panel.

On the apparent cusp of the forensics board's re-examination of the evidence in the Willingham case, Perry has not only dropped forensics chairman Bassett but two other members of the body, Fort Worth prosecutor Alan Levy and forensics expert Aliece Watts, both of whom had written letters to Perry in support of Bassett continuing as commission head so their work could continue without interruption.

… Bassett told TIME he was dismayed and puzzled by Perry's decision. "I certainly hope this change is not about political concerns," Bassett says.

For a full review of this case,

visit our Willingham resource page

.

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