Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

November 9, 2009

(11-08-09) GUEST COMMENTARY: A work in progress

Forensic Science Commission chair addresses future

Editor’s note: The following guest commentary is being run at the request of the Texas Forensic Science Commission.



I am John Bradley, the elected District Attorney in Williamson County and the new presiding officer of the nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission. I am writing to introduce myself, explain the purpose of the Commission and inform you about the work the Commission now faces.

The Commission wants to reassure you that the Willingham case, involving a study of the application of the forensic science of arson, will be completed. However, pending the release of a final report by the Commission, you should be skeptical of media reports, personal pronouncements and editorials on that case. Those with agendas separate from the advancement of forensic science have made exaggerated claims and drawn premature conclusions about the case.

The Commission can only ask that the public be patient and permit the Commission to apply a disciplined, scientific approach to the investigation. That kind of hard work takes time, careful deliberation, and is not likely to result in a simplistic report.

You also need to know that the Commission was created to determine only whether there was negligence or misconduct by an accredited laboratory conducting forensic analyses of certain kinds of evidence in specific cases. The Commission does not decide whether persons are guilty or innocent of criminal offenses. The Commission also is not a forum for the debate of social issues, such as the appropriateness of the death penalty. Such discussions are better suited for our court system and the legislative process.

The Commission was created in 2005 but still is in its infancy. Actual work by the Commission began only two years ago. After several weeks of educating myself about the brief history of the Commission, I have learned there is still significant work to be done before decisions by the Commission can be treated as authoritative.

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The Willingham Files
  • Science panel suggests review of arson convictions

    A Texas commission no longer allowed to investigate a case where death penalty opponents say a man may have been executed based on a faulty arson investigation recommended Friday that all cases involving people locked up on arson convictions be reviewed.

    October 29, 2011

  • 9-30 DA Award.jpg Thompson honored for Willingham work

    Lowell Thompson, Navarro County District Attorney, was honored by his peers at the Texas District and County Attorneys Association conference last week in Corpus Christi with the Lone Star Award for his work on the Willingham case.

    September 29, 2011 1 Photo

  • Willingham not on science panel agenda DALLAS (AP) — A state science panel looking into a possible wrongful conviction in a Texas death penalty case is meeting for the first time since Gov. Rick Perry removed several members, but the execution case is not on the agenda.

    January 21, 2010

  • (12-14-09) Tarrant County medical examiner appointed to forensic commission Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Tarrant County's medical examiner to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a group shaken up this fall when Perry replaced several members.

    December 14, 2009

  • images_sizedimage_336091456 (12-02-09) Jurors defend verdict that led to Texas execution David Martin is sickened by the suggestion that Texas executed an innocent man when Cameron Todd Willingham was put to death for setting a fire that killed his three children.

    December 2, 2009 1 Photo

  • (11-10-09) Forensic panel chair offers plans The Texas Forensic Science Commission is not going to debate the death penalty or decide the guilt or innocence of individual cases, said John Bradley

    November 10, 2009

  • (11-08-09) GUEST COMMENTARY: A work in progress I am John Bradley, the elected District Attorney in Williamson County and the new presiding officer of the nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission. I am writing to introduce myself, explain the purpose of the Commission and inform you about the work the Commission now faces.

    November 9, 2009

  • (10-27-09) Texas Forensic Science Commission questioned The City of Corsicana is questioning the Texas Forensic Science Commission’s ability to look at the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, since it happened 14 years before the commission was created.

    November 2, 2009

  • (10-26-09) Report: Willingham's former wife, 'He confessed' In a story on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's online newspaper today, Stacey Kykendall, the former wife of executed Cameron Todd Willingham, says he confessed to her before his execution.

    October 27, 2009

  • Death penalty opponents rally at Texas Capitol AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Death penalty opponents, convinced an innocent man was executed in 2004, staged a rally Saturday at the Texas Capitol to call for a moratorium on capital punishment and to highlight the controversial case of Cameron Todd Willingham.

    October 24, 2009

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