Thursday, October 1, 2009

Forensic panel cancels meeting after Gov. Perry dismisses three members

Forty-eight hours before the Texas Forensic Science Commission was set to meet to discuss a report that was critical of the arson investigation in the Cameron Willingham case, Governor Rick Perry replaced three members of the commission, forcing it to cancel Friday's meeting.

The impeccably coiffed governor named Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley and forensic scientist Norma Jean Farley to take the now-vacant seats on the commission. The third new member will be named after the Texas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (of which I am a member) provides a recommendation.

Perry told The Associated Press the terms of the dismissed board members were expiring and replacing them "was pretty standard business as usual." But several board members have served more than one term and had their appointments renewed.

Earlier this month, Perry expressed confidence in Willingham's guilt and derided reports questioning the arson investigation, referring to their authors as "supposed experts." He said he had not "seen anything that would cause me to think that the decision" to execute Willingham "was not correct."

Craig Beyler, an arson expert from Baltimore, issued a report that was highly critical of the investigation undertaken by Deputy State Fire Marshal Manuel Vasquez in the Willingham case. Appointing a prosecutor, especially from Williamson County (north of Austin), is a nice touch from the blow-dried one since most prosecutors just assume that if you're a defendant that you must be guilty.

Nixon had his Saturday night massacre, Perry has his Wednesday night drive-by.

I guess the anticipation was just too much for Perry to bear -- after all, it doesn't do much for one's reputation to be the one in charge when an innocent man was sent to his death.

In other news, the fox has been been chosen to guard the hen house.

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