Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waco conviction overturned over debunked arson testimony

In a curious per curium opinion, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today granted habeas corpus relief to Ed Graf (see Grits coverage here, here, and here), who was convicted based on expert testimony about arson that was substantively demonstrably false. The case is notable both for a) the quick turnaround and b) the lack of dissent among a court that was divided 5-4 on similar questions in Ex Parte Robbins, Overton and Henderson. Perhaps with SB 344 by Whitmire passing the Texas Senate this week in direct response to their recent decisions, the court decided these old arson cases were the wrong venue to quarrel over whether debunked science provides a basis for relief.

MORE: At the Dallas News (March 28), see, "Force arson science to apply in criminal court," and from Dave Mann at the Texas Observer, see "The Arson Files: Ed Graf wins a new trial."

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