from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Texas Forensic Science Commission will convene to discuss forensic developments and the investigations into the cases of Cameron Todd Willingham and Ernest Willis, among other items. The Innocence Project will broadcast the entire meeting live online here.Maybe this will be less painful than their last meeting. See pre-meeting commentary from the Dallas News and the Austin Statesman.
- Forensic commission's Willingham committee meeting in secret
- Forensic commission should 'reconsider' rules, pull Willingham case out of stacked committee
- Hectoring approach works for John Bradley at Forensic Science Commission, for now
- Forensic Science Commission meets today, but does it have rulemaking authority?
- Saying 'no' to John Bradley
- Bradley violated Open Meetings Act at forensic hearing
(12:00) Despite a poor reception for the idea at their last meeting, the first substantive question on the agenda after a canned presentation on lab backlogs was whether to hire a full-time "General Counsel" for the Commission, which only meets once per quarter. A few initial thoughts: First, this commission is about science, but the chair wants the only staffer to be a lawyer (commission coordinator Leigh Tomlin is employed by Sam Houston State). Second, the FSC budget is small and money spent on a lawyer can't be spent on investigations into science. Also, the Attorney General's rep said she had no reason to believe their office couldn't handle the extra duties being described. They want to hire someone in the $60-80K range, but the AG rep told the commission if they wanted someone with any specific forensic science or criminal law background, it would probably cost them more than that. Still, they voted to move forward on the idea and will get back a more detailed job description at their next meeting.
(12:25): Just realized Rodger Jones at the Dallas News is livebogging the meeting in much more detail than I'll have time to do today. Go here for his coverage.
ALSO: According to the Austin Statesman, this morning the FSC voted to expand the committee focused on the Todd Willingham investigation committee, now to include all three of the Governor's recent appointees on it, plus Dr. Sarah Kerrigan. The newest member suggested that the FSC take up the case as a committee of the whole, but Chairman Bradley shot down that idea because "if the subcommittee were enlarged to include the entire nine-member commission — or at least a quorum — the meetings would have to be public because of Texas’ open meeting requirements," reported Corrie MacLaggan. I still think the Commission should reconsider their rules to clarify what they were promised when they were first approved: That cases already in the pipeline wouldn't have to go through the new committee process.