Ellis Statement on AG Opinion on Scope of Forensic Science Commission Authority

Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) released the following statement regarding the Attorney General Opinion on the scope of investigatory powers of the Forensic Science Commission:

“While I believe the Attorney General took a very narrow view in responding to the questions asked, I was happy to see him recognize that the Forensic Science Commission has the authority to investigate allegations of professional negligence or misconduct from incidents occurring prior to September 1, 2005.

“A major component of the complaint involving Ernest Willis and Cameron Willingham is the negligence of the Texas Fire Marshall’s Office in failing to inform prosecutors, defense lawyers, and the courts about the fact that it had used flawed arson science to convict hundreds or thousands of people. It failed to inform the Governor’s Office and the Board of Pardons and Parole as well, and as a result innocent people could be incarcerated today or may have been executed.

“Nothing in this Attorney General’s opinion prevents the Texas Forensic Science Commission from completing its report and ruling that the Fire Marshall was negligent when it failed in its “duty to correct” the flawed arson science that was used in numerous arson cases. They had that “duty to correct” prior to 2005, when the Forensic Science Commission legislation took effect, and after 2005, and they have never done so. They should inform the criminal justice system of their mistakes quickly, and I would encourage the Forensic Science Commission to make such a recommendation to ensure justice is served in Texas.”

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