a state lawmaker who drafted the legislation establishing the commission said that its mission is clear: to ascertain that the science used in forensic analyses is valid. The move to allow the panel to do additional research in the Cameron Todd Willingham case is a stalling tactic, he and another state lawmaker said.
"Commission members need to move on and act on the mission; they are moving at a snail's pace," said Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen. "The perception is that they are dragging their feet, not being open and transparent."
Such opinions may be aired at the commission's July meeting, where Bradley said commissioners will iron out what the commission can and should do. Then, more specific lines may be drawn and guidelines enforced.
One point of contention is why the panel needs to look at the statement from Willingham's ex-wife and other evidence that doesn't address the science used to determine the source of the fire. Gov. Rick Perry, who has defended the handling of the case, has urged the media to review evidence and court records that he said clearly show that Willingham was a "heinous individual who murdered his kids."
But critics say the commission is to focus only on the validity of the forensic science.
"The commission isn't supposed to decide a person's guilt or innocence," said Stephen Saloom, policy director with the Innocence Project in New York, which filed the Willingham complaint with the commission in December 2006. "It is supposed to abide by its mandate, which is to investigate negligence of forensic analysis, not to reinvent the wheel and retry a conviction."
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Hinojosa: Forensic commission dragging its feet
State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa weighed in on the Forensic Science Commission controversy in a piece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ("Texas lawmakers say commission dragging its feet on fatal fire probe," May 11), where Yamil Berard wrote that: