- Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Oct. 4): Texas forensic panel to hear report on wrongful convictions in arson cases
- Austin American-Statesman (Oct. 5): Review of old arson cases picking up steam
A long-awaited review of old Texas arson cases — an unprecedented search for wrongful convictions based on bad fire investigation science — is picking up speed and will probably produce the first results in January, participants said Friday.The IPOT review has only focused on cases where someone is still in prison based on an arson conviction and their methodology is not comprehensive, basically picking off low hanging fruit. But that's a great start compared to what's going on in other states, and sets a good precedent that, when forensic errors are discovered, old cases where potentially flawed forensics were used should be vetted for viable innocence claims.
One suspect case has been identified and about 26 others are being scrutinized for evidence that investigators relied on now-discredited “myths,” instead of science, to determine that the fires were intentionally set, said Nick Vilbas with the Innocence Project of Texas, which is leading the review.
“We hope to be done pretty soon,” Vilbas told the Texas Forensic Science Commission during Friday’s meeting in Austin.
A panel of fire experts, assembled by new Texas Fire Marshal Chris Connealy, is scheduled to hear details of the first batch of suspect cases in January. Their findings would help determine how each case should proceed in the criminal justice system, Connealy said.
See prior, related Grits posts:
- State fire marshal interview highlights review of arson cases
- State fire marshal pledges to assist in innocence review of old arson cases
- Will review of junk science in arson cases go forward?
- What is the duty to notify defendants of past crime lab errors?
- A 'confluence of interests' supporting debunked arson indicators
- Forensic commission urges review of old arson cases based on junk science
- Forensic commissioner: State fire marshal testimony 'embarrassing'
- Experts: Willingham investigation negligent even by 1991 standards
- The politics of reexamining flawed arson foresics
- If arson science in Willingham case was 'flawed,' what about other, similar cases?
- How best to vet old arson innocence claims?
- Willingham debate not focused on arson science
- Arson cases a tangle of science and supposition
- Arson cases fueling innocence debates
- Many arson convictions based on invalid science
- Arson convictions may be next venue for innocence claims
- College to develop screening processes for vetting old arson cases for bad forensic science