The controversial chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission will be out of the job next week.
The state Senate Nominations Committee has ended its work for this session without voting on Gov. Rick Perry's appointment in 2009 of John Bradley to chair the commission.Though the commission eventually released a report critical of the poor, unscientific nature of the arson investigators' work in the Willingham case, Bradley did succeed in what was widely considered the Governor's main goal in appointing him: Delaying any final outcome until after the 2010 gubernatorial election. Now, with the Senate's unexpected dismissal of the FSC chairman, presumably Mr. Bradley can hang a "Mission Accomplished" banner and re-focus his efforts on the day to day tasks of Williamson County District Attorney.
Bradley's term ends when the legislative session concludes Monday.
Perry appointed Bradley, the Williamson County district attorney, to lead the commission just days before it was to hear a report critical of the original investigation of arson evidence in a Death Row case from Corsicana.
The inmate, Cameron Todd Willingham, was executed in 2004. Some arson scientists say that the evidence suggests that the blaze that killed his children was an accident, not arson, and that, therefore, he was wrongly executed.
Bradley slowed down the panel's work and pushed members to find no misconduct by fire investigators.
Grits finds it remarkable that Bradley and his brother David, a member of the State Board of Education, have together lately served as twin spearpoints in right-wing attacks on science in Texas. That's quite a family niche! John Bradley has spent the last year and a half seeking to thwart investigation into flawed arson science, and his brother leads the anti-science crusade (particularly promoting alternative, religious based theories to evolution) on the SBOE. In both cases, the result was overreach. The SBOE's actions caused a voter backlash in last year's primaries against religious conservatives on the board, and JB's antics earned him bipartisan opposition in the Texas Senate. Those developments at least provide some basis for hope that Texans won't support an extremist anti-science agenda, even if they agree with other tenets of grassroots conservative ideology.
See related Grits posts:
- Punting: Forensic Science Commission fails to answer on negligence, misconduct allegations in Willingham fire investigation
- John Bradley's last hurrah at the Forensic Science Commission
- Nominations chair: Bradley appointment to FSC looks doomed as Rs join opposition
- Bradley nomination for forensic chair dead?
- Ellis: DA used forensic chairmanship to 'seize power,' 'thwart the will' of the commission, 'hide' its work from the public, increase 'bureaucratic bloat,' and 'slow its impressive progress to a crawl.' Otherwise he's doing great
- Questioning John Bradley
- Delay, delay, it's the word of the day: Bradley proffers excuses to put off investigating forensic errors
- Forensic commissioner: State fire marshal testimony "embarrassing"
- Experts: Willingham investigation negligent even by 1991 standards
- Arson experts finally scheduled to testify in Willingham inquiry tomorrow
- Forensic Science Commission diverting resources from investigating negligence, misconduct
- Peerwani: Arson testimony in Willingham case flawed
- What trick, what device, what starting-hole canst thou now find out?
- If arson science in Willingham case was 'flawed,' what about other, similar cases?
- A 'confluence of interests' supporting debunked arson indicators