Texas Gov. Rick Perry is under scrutinty after he refused to reappoint three members of an obscure forensic-science commission, reports Time magazine. Perry ignored the written pleas from several members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, including two of his own appointees, to reappoint the board’s well-respected chairman, Austin lawyer Sam Bassett. Bassett’s departure has resulted in a delay in an important investigation of evidence in a death-penalty case that critics say will prove an innocent man was executed on Perry’s watch.
The commission evaluates forensics standards in a state that too frequently has been in an unwelcome spotlight on issues of crime and punishment. Some believe that Perry’s moves are related to the case f Cameron Todd Willingham, who was put to death in 2004 for the murder of his three children in a 1991 house fire in Corsicana, Texas. In September, Willingham’s story was detailed in the New Yorker magazine. It details the conclusions of two noted experts that the fire was accidental and that the arson evidence presented at Willingham’s trial was not based on science.