Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
July 23, 2010
Contact: Tina Tran, 512-463-0113

Sen. Ellis Regarding the Forensic Science Commission Meeting on Flawed Science Used in the Willingham Case, Wrong Direction of Investigation

(Houston, TX)//The Texas Forensic Science Commission met today in part to determine the extent of the Commission's jurisdiction to investigate the forensic evidence in the Cameron Todd Willingham arson case. The Commission affirmed that the investigation will continue.

Senator Ellis issues the following statement:

"I am happy to hear that the Forensic Science Commission is moving forward on the Todd Willingham investigation, but unfortunately the Commission is off track in terms of what it should be investigating. It was painfully apparent that many FSC members believe that flawed science was used in the Willingham conviction, but the FSC does not seem interested in looking at the bigger picture: When did the State Fire Marshal start using modern arson science and did the State Fire Marshal commit professional negligence or misconduct when it failed to inform the courts, prosecutors, the Board of Pardons and Parole, and the Governor that flawed arson science had been used to convict hundreds of defendants?

It was also encouraging that the FSC clarified that the memo on the FSC's jurisdiction is not the "law" of the Commission, nor binding on it. It is apparent that the Commission heard loud and clear that the House Public Safety Committee members, Sen. Hinojosa, and I did not think that the memo's description of the FSC jurisdiction was accurate. We can now be more confident that the FSC will be willing to look at faulty forensic science that occurred at any time, and that the FSC is not limited to investigating labs, facilities or entities accredited by the Department of Public Safety.

While I am happy that the FSC is moving forward with its work, it is disappointing that bureaucratic foot-dragging has delayed the Willingham investigation for nine months. Hopefully the Commission will now move at a quicker pace to improve our justice system by ensuring reliable evidence is used in our courts, and ensure Texans can have faith the criminal justice system protects the innocent and convicts the guilty."