Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New shenanigans on arson investigation at forensic commission

Barry Scheck of the national Innocence Project and Todd Willingham's cousin have an op ed in the Houston Chronicle accusing Forensic Science Commission Chair and Williamson County DA John Bradley of more shenanigans aiming to prevent a re-assessment of science in old arson cases. They write:
Last week, after closed meetings that may violate the Texas Open Meetings Act, Bradley sent out an unsigned legal memo instructing commissioners that they have a “relatively narrow investigative jurisdiction.”

Employing “Catch-22” logic, he claimed that commissioners lack the “discretion or power” to investigate evidence that was not from a laboratory accredited by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) — which, as it happens, did not accredit labs before 2003, years after the Willingham fire. By this reasoning, the TFSC cannot review any pre-2003 matter, such as the Houston Police Department crime lab evidence, the scandal that gave rise to its formation.

In 2008, the TFSC carefully considered the jurisdiction question, and, with assent from the Attorney General’s office, determined that the Willingham and other old cases like it are well within its authority.

And rightly so: The Willingham inquiry into the use of unreliable arson analysis is an urgent matter for more than 600 people incarcerated in Texas whose arson convictions may have been based on invalid science. If its investigation is derailed, the commissioners would be turning their backs on these potentially innocent Texans.

Rather than becoming mired in bureaucratic shell games, the commissioners should take their cue from the FBI, which, after learning that a scientific test it used for three decades to do composite bullet lead analysis was unreliable, not only stopped using this flawed science but systematically reviewed its old cases and notified prosecutors across the country when it could no longer stand behind the testimony of its own agent examiners. The same should be done in this instance. 
Doubtless most Grits readers are unsurprised at Mr. Bradley's hubris in relying upon his own opinion over his colleagues' 2008 determination and the commission's advisers from the Attorney General. Such transparent stalling tactics have been his modus operandi since the day Bradley was appointed to the chairman's slot.

MORE: From Jeff Gamso and Willigham's appellate attorney Walter Reaves. Gamso linked to a copy of  the memo.


Anonymous said...

Barry Scheck writing an op/ed piece in the Houston Comical? Now there's a reliable piece of objective editorial journalism! LMAO!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Why do you ignore the facts and attack the messenger?

I don't believe in "objective" journalism, and this was a self-styled "editorial." Still, they broke the story about the memo from Bradley last week claiming the FSC couldn't look at the Willingham case because of jurisdictional issues. Nobody else had it.

Hook Em Horns said...

Barry Scheck's reputation is well known. DNA exonerations = Texas Injustice! His commentary is a hell of a lot more reliable and worth reading than some chicken-$#/7 who posts anonymous on Grits. Go away!

Anonymous said...

I agree. All of the exonerations that the innocence project, headed by Scheck, speak for themselves. Despite want you think of him personally, the results speak for themselves. Some people just choose not to hear.

Anonymous said...

Good Grief, how low can they dip into the pit?

Do political puppets all think that the public believes this nonsense? is Bradley the hack that Perry put in charge a few months ago, I forget.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Scheck one of the lawyers that helped "exonerate" O.J. Simpson? That tells me all I need to know about his reputation and credibility. Just another sleazebag lawyer out there trying to get criminals off the hook!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

4:36, the subject of the post isn't Barry Scheck but Mr. Bradley's attempts to scuttle the Willingham arson investigation. The memo in question was issued no matter what your opinion of Mr. Scheck. Try to focus, please.

4:26, yes, Bradley is Perry's new appointee as chair from last fall.

Anonymous said...

replyWhy is it that Barry Scheck fighting for what he believes in, like him or not, and making sure that people who stand trial (innocent until PROVEN guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, remember) is a "sleazebag" but idiots like John Bradley who seek to lie and cheat the public and demand that they are right in the face of facts to the contrary is a public servant out for justice?

When you try to make the argument, you lose all credibility, and Bradley never had any of that to bring to the table himself.

Anonymous said...

Bradley is a sleazebag; the king of spin. When he gets called out on his crap, he whines about the liberals and anti death penalty people as if they are somehow to blame for his screwups.

He runs WilCo like a common thug, why would he run the commission any different?

Bradley's day in the limelight is around the corner. Exposure time awaits him. Its Bradley's turn to be the example.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard yet if the Innocence Project is going to livestream the meeting like they have done in the past?

Jennifer Laurin said...

Looks like the IP will indeed be streaming:

Anonymous said...

Ah, Bradley. What a douchebag. It amazes me that anyone who gets all turned on by folks who are 'tough on crime' continue to elect the biggest fricking criminal in the county. Bradley breaks laws and betrays the public trust daily. Why do you dipshits keep electing him?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Berry Scheck is right and the Houston Chronicle editorial is correct and just. You know it's right. Don't stonewall the facts.

The Government of Texas cannot stonewall this now. The more officials try to stonewall it, the worse it will be for them. They will be forced to pay money, and they will be ashamed and ostracized from their communities.

If they keep trying to stonewall the investigation, they will scream, wail and have nightmares.