Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
March 2, 2011
Contact: Jeremy Warren, 512-463-0113

Ellis on Bradley Nomination: It's about performance, not politics or personality

Record of obfuscation, delay and at Texas Forensic Science Commission Raises Concerns

(AUSTIN)—Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today rejected statements that opposition to John Bradley's nomination as Chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission was a matter of partisanship and emphasized Mr. Bradley's record of failed leadership on the commission.

"Opposition to John Bradley is not about partisanship or personality, it is about his performance on the Texas Forensic Science Commission," said Ellis. "John Bradley has a 16-month record of obfuscation, delay and failure. The record clearly demonstrates Mr. Bradley has used his position to seize power over, and thwart the will of the expert Commission, hide the Commission's work from the public, greatly increase the Commission's bureaucratic bloat, slow its previously impressive progress to a crawl, and otherwise prevent the Commission from accomplishing the legislature's intent.

"That's not politics, that's reality."

The Texas Forensic Science Commission was created by the Legislature in 2005, in the wake of the Houston crime lab scandal and a string of other serious forensic problems that had come to light in Texas. These problems, and how they were being handled, had shaken nearly everyone's faith in forensic evidence and the possibility of wrongful convictions - as well as missing the real perpetrators of crime. In order to restore and maintain public faith in forensic evidence, and the criminal justice system generally, the legislature created the Commission as an expert, independent and lean entity to be sure these problems were properly addressed.

The previous Forensic Science Commission Chairs took their roles seriously, and did all they could. The first chair was severely hampered by the fact that the Commission, when first formed, had received no funding. When the funding finally arrived, however, in 2007, the second Chair, quickly and responsibly (with a representative of the Attorney General's office providing legal advice at every step of the way) led the Commission into establishing its operating policies and procedures, virtually all of which were formed by consensus and unanimous votes of the Commission. The unpaid members of the Commission accomplished a tremendous amount of valuable work in a short amount of time; they were just the kind of lean and effective operation that people want from government.

In 2009, just as the Commission was poised to begin completing its first investigation – a review of the evidence used to convict and sentence to death Todd Willingham – Mr. Bradley was appointed Chair of the Commission.

"The record is clear: since Mr. Bradley has taken the reins, rather than move the commission forward to look into allegations, find the truth, and repair problems in our broken justice system, the Commission has invested most of its time and energy finding ways to avoid looking into problems and looking for loopholes to block the commission from doing what it was created to do," said Ellis. "That is why the Senate should reject Mr. Bradley's nomination."