News 11.01.11

Texas Forensic News: After Final Willingham Report, New Members Join Commission

After several years spent reviewing the arson conviction of Cameron Todd Willingham, the Texas Forensic Science Commission

concluded its work on the case last week

, with an addendum to its final report acknowledging that unreliable arson science helped to convict Willingham, who was executed in 2004.

As Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom

wrote here last week

, the commission deserves praise for recommending improved arson investigation practices and for joining with the Innocence Project of Texas to reinvestigate old arson cases that may have been built on similar faulty science.

And Brian Stull

wrote on the ACLU’s Blog of Rights yesterday

about the commission’s final report in the Willingham case.

The Commission’s chairman, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, said “it is important to understand that science is an ever-changing process.”

Dr. Peerwani is right. Even assuming that the state’s experts are never negligent, and that police and prosecutors never commit misconduct, science is ever changing. What was true yesterday may be found false tomorrow.

The commission will continue to oversee forensic practices in the state and review allegations of misconduct or negligence. Gov. Rick Perry this week

appointed four new commission members

, and Peerwani will remain the chairman.

Read the full addendum to the April 15, 2011,

TFSC report on the Willingham/Willis Investigation

.

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