Monday, February 1, 2010

Trying to bury the truth

"There will be peace in the valley for me some day." -- Thomas A. Dorsey (1937)

Maybe that's what Williamson County DA John Bradley thought when he scheduled the meeting for the Texas Forensic Science Commission in Harlingen after abruptly cancelling the commission's last scheduled meeting in October 2009.

Instead of discussing Craig Beyler's report criticizing the arson investigation in the Cameron Willingham case, Mr. Bradley thought it would be better to discuss the policies and procedures by which Mr. Bradley thought the commission should operate. Well, that and his decision to kick an Austin-based camera crew out of the meeting room in violation of the open meetings act.

Mr. Bradley's reluctance to discuss the case of Mr. Willingham -- more than likely the first documented case of an innocent man being executed, er, murdered by the State of Texas -- is understandable. Mr. Bradley's a prosecutor who was elected by the people of Williamson County based on his promise to put the bad guys in jail. The last thing Mr. Bradley wants is the public to know that sometimes prosecutors get it wrong. He, and the rest of the law enforcement establishment, don't want the public questioning the death penalty.

Perhaps he should review Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 3.09 about the special responsibilities of a prosecutor.

The committee members didn't go for Mr. Bradley's attempts to neuter the commission. They voted down his proposals that would have given him dictatorial powers over the commission and forced him to place the Willingham case on the agenda for the committee's next meeting in April.

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