Wednesday, October 07, 2009

John Bradley promises 'integrity' on Forensic Commission: Proof will come soon enough

Speaking yesterday with the Dallas News ("New chair unsure whether state panel will proceed no flawed case that led to execution in Corsicana fire," Oct. 7), Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley waffled on whether the Texas Forensic Science Commission would go forward with its inquiry anytime soon into flawed arson forensics used in a death penalty case, and he seemed in little hurry to restart the process. Governor Perry last week appointed Bradley as the Commission's new chair, resulting in the delay of a prominent investigation into bogus arson forensics presented to a jury in the Cameron Todd Willingham case:

Bradley told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that he doesn't know when the board will take up its investigations again. He said he needs time to review the commission's two years' worth of work and to study the role of its members and the process they should use in moving forward.

"It is too important as a symbolic case, and as much as a real case, for us not to finish that work," Bradley said of the Willingham case. "But at the same time, I want to make sure the work is done in a way that is professional and has utmost integrity."

Bradley said the timetable for the board to act is also unclear because the governor has two more positions to fill, and he wants to wait until all new members are on board.

Does Mr. Bradley have a single, articulable reason to believe the Commission's work was not "professional and has utmost integrity"? If so, he should say exactly what are those concerns. In truth, it was Bradley shutting down the hearing scheduled for last Friday which has most called into question the integrity of the process. Outside of that, there have been no credible allegations I'm aware of questioning the Commission's integrity. They're all GOP appointees, after all, it's not like these are a bunch of liberals.

Mr. Bradley told the News he did not seek this appointment, but that strikes me as disingenuous. His name was picked by the Governor from a short list given him by the prosecutors' association. Are we really to believe that they included Bradley's name without his consent, that he didn't know his name had been proposed to the governor for this role and he did not pre-approve of its submission? That seems pretty far-fetched to me.

Mr. Bradley attempts to reassure the public with platitudes regarding his good intentions:

Bradley said that looking back on cases to see if bad science played a role is important, but mostly as it applies to future cases.

"It is my experience that leadership is best applied to moving forward rather than looking back," he said.

Bradley said he can't satisfy critics who believe he was placed on the commission to stymie the Willingham investigation.

"All I can do is reassure people that ... from this day forward, all of the decisions the commission makes will be in the best interest of advancing forensic science in Texas and that there is no preconceived notion of how that should be done," he said.

But at this point, as Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey pointed out, we don't need to listen to Mr. Bradley's words to know if this was a political ploy, we can observe his actions. If the commission quickly reschedules the Willingham hearing before the gubernatorial primary and the chair allows them to produce strong recommendations as a result, it will quickly, easily dispel criticisms that Mr. Bradley is just a political hack brought in to hide the truth instead of seek it. I'd be more than happy to publicly eat crow for my critiques of Bradley's appointment if that's how things pan out.

If on the other hand the Commission's Willingham inquiry is delayed past the March primary or shut down altogether, all the excuse making in the world won't convince me this wasn't, as Paul Burka called it, a straight-up "Cover Up."

Reading the tea leaves, Bradley's talk about "moving forward rather than looking back" causes me to fear he may be inclined to shut down the Willingham inquiry entirely, and perhaps also the investigation into Brandon Moon's false conviction (based on bad forensics from a DPS crime lab in Lubbock). That may well be how things turn out, but if so it will be impossible to accept the chair's protestations that his only goal is "advancing forensic science in Texas."

RELATED: Via TexasKaos, see coverage of the case from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:

The Governor wouldn't make time speak with the reporter, but she promised CNN would "keep asking" Rick Perry about the case until the Governor gave them some answers.


Anonymous said...

Bradley is lying when he says there is no preconceived notion of how the commission should proceed on its public charge going forward. All one has to do is read his hateful comments toward the defense bar on the TDCAA forums to understand he has no interest but to put a stamp of approval on bogus methods of producing convictions.

Bradley wouldn't recognize integrity if it bit him in the ass.

Amerloc said...

I disagree with Bradley on too many things to celebrate his appointment to chair this commission, but let's not scapegoat the lesser actor here.

He says he doesn't want to move until Perry fills the remaining slots on the board, and I can't find a way to blame him for that: in a hearing this important, I'd want to make sure every member heard every word, saw every exhibit, read every document, too.

And who will sit on those last two appointments until the gods of political expediency smile? Perry.

Anonymous said...

You have to wonder what kind of political advice Governor Goodhair is getting. Once that expert report that the evidence was bogus was released to the press (because people from the AG's office advised that it HAD to be based on Texas public information laws) the damage was done. With this move Perry just looks panicky.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't anyone in the MSM asking the governor why he is delaying the appointment for the slot for a defense lawyer? Oh, because his motives here are so obvious. . . .

ckikerintulia said...

Maybe the good guv will appoint Jeff Blackburn to the slot for a defense attorney?

Anonymous said...

The FSC Roundtable scheduled for Nov 6 in Austin has been canceled. Meeting materials have been deleted from the FSC site.

Anonymous said...

When Strayhorn released the report outlining the States abuse of children in the Texas foster care system, Gov. Goodhair responded by sealing all subsequent data on the issue from the public eye. Is anyone surprised with his response to the very good possibility that Texas executed an innocent man? We've speculated over the number of innocent individuals in prison because of faulty practices that range from prosecutors more interested in the numbers of convictions they can rack up than actual guilt or innocence, to Voodoo passed off as science, to laws and registries that have created a pariah class whose sentences don't end when they've served their time, but deny them basic freedoms for life most take for granted and yet for Goodhair, it's business as usual.

One of the questions that should be asked is given his response to these very different issues, what else has been covered up by Goodhair and his administration? The list of bad acts by Goodhair and his supporters, from active interference to turning a blind eye to the misdeeds of others, is a long one and I'm sure would make an enlightening one to the general public if compiled and published. But I'm sure as long as it might be, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Goodhair doesn't need to secede from the Union to create his own little Banana republic, he already has one.

[Evolved Ideas] Austen Jones said...

all i have to say is WTF mate???

how freaken hard is it to just do the right thing. it is situations like this that poison our governments judicial and executive departments. If evidence is presented that contradicts a ruling you let the guy go ... and apologize and perhaps even compensate him for the time he has served. it is disgusting to think that a Rick Perry would go to these lengths ruining a mans life just to cover up his negligence.

it is sickening.

Clean UP WilCo said...

"John Bradley promises integrity..."

This man, while working under Ken Anderson, prosecuted a 17 year old boy with a 12 year old mentality. The boy's court appointed attorney (who has resigned from the bar in lieu of disciplinary action for unrelated unethical behavior--Charles Randy Lepley) told the boy's mother to butt out and convinced the boy to take a plea despite the fact there were witnesses to support the boy's story. The court appointed lawyer told the boy he would probably get a few years probation. The boy has since served 13 years on a 20 year sentence. This young man has suffered beatings, rape, you name it.

I hope integrity will eventually bite John Bradley in the ass and reveal the man for who he is.

Hook Em Horns said...

This is the END for Rick Perry as Governor.

Anonymous said...


Whatever happened with the federal lawsuit filed August 6, 2008against John Bradley and Sheriff James R. Wilson by Michael Morton and Patricia Stapleton?

Anonymous said...

He just lost my Vote!!!!!!!!!!!! Thats scarey when a Govorner will not do the right thing !!! What else has He done while in Office?

Anonymous said...

Whats also a possibility is that the other Inmates may get a little upset when hearing How Rick Perry Covered this up and start a Riot.. Man Hes putting the safety of TDCJ Employees at risk as well as anyone in the great Texas Prison System....Thats not a good decesion He made and it may have a rippling effect ....I Hope Not!!!!