Death by Fire

On February 16, 2004 Gov. Rick Perry (Texas) executed an innocent man. His name was Cameron Todd Willingham and he was convicted of murder via arson for the deaths of his three young children. Perry also impeded the investigation of the incident by the Texas Forensic Science Commission when he replaced four of the nine members in an attempt to change the report showing there no evidence of arson.

In the words of GERALD HURST, Ph.D., Arson Expert:

There is not one iota of evidence that the fire was arson.

Rick Perry is a coward. He executed an innocent man to further his political ambitions.
DOUGLAS FOGG, one of the original “arson investigators”:

I don’t care how many degrees you may have, how many books you may have written, this was a set fire. We had a jury of 12 people that convicted a man who was later executed. Was Mr. Willingham innocent? In my opinion, he was guilty as the day he was born.

This is an interesting statement. This man has no idea of what fire science entails. It’s a lot more than writing books, it involves scientific experimentation using the resources of various disciplines. His contempt for science is endemic in this country. He tries to assuage his guilt by shifting the blame to the jury. In effect, he blames the jury for believing his bogus evidence.

Some may claim that Willingham received a fair trial, where “fair” is defined in some legal sense that seems to have more to do with correct procedure than with guilt or innocence. When the guilt or innocence of the defendant is not the primary concern of the legal system, then justice is illusory.

Since I can’t embed the video, you can watch the Frontline episode, here.

-David Drumm (Nal)

33 thoughts on “Death by Fire”

  1. The press is about people being wrongfully convicted of murder and rape but I think a lot of people are falsely accused of and wrongfully convicted of other crimes. Like the gal I met — I think her boyfriend wanted to file an insurance claim and he was mad because she dumped him. I helped her file a complaint to the Colorado Attorney Regulation Counsel that she was being prosecuted with no evidence to collaborate her ex’s accusation and pressured to plea. Her public defender then pressured her even more and said that if she retracted the plea bargain she would be charged with perjury. She told me that when she was arrested for the alleged felony theft they put her dumpy old car in storage. She asked them to search the car to see if the tools her ex claimed were missing were in the car but they said she would have to pay $500 to have her car searched. She couldn’t come up with the funds. They had no evidence that she had any tools or more than a small amount of cash. They told her that if she didn’t plea bargain she would get 10 years because a jury would never believe she was being prosecuted without evidence and she would have to go to court in jail clothes.

  2. Rick Perry is a coward for pandering to the ‘get tough on crime’ crowd and not calling for a retrial.
    Rick Perry is a murderer for killing Cameron Todd Willingham.

    His predecessor George W. Bush likewise killed a completely reformed murderer and made fun of her on TV, and routinely signed off on Texas’ killing of convicts irregardless of new evidence.

  3. Kay:

    Wow…you are way above my head. Your case is way beyond me.

    But even a commoner like me knows these dirty lawyers, prosecutors, and judges have gone too far. They are in many ways more evil than the people they put in jail because we put our trust in them to do right and they use force to exert their will on us.

    In Rudi Giuliani’s case against Michael Milken, for example, Giuliani’s office INVENTED crimes DURING the case.

    Yet, these guys still roam around freely. Milken was eventually exonerated but not until the lawyers got their jollies destroying his life (and their paychecks of course, don’t forget their paychecks!)

    Here is a quote from the Tyranny of Good Intentions:

    “Michael Milken had the law on his side, but that wasn’t enough. To this day, no evidence exists that Milken ever committed any crimes or engaged in any conduct that had ever before been considered criminal. Giuliani’s assistant U.S. attorney John Carroll admitted as much. At Seton Hall Law School in April 1992, Carrol said that in the Milken case ‘we’re guilty of criminalizing technical offenses…Many of the prosecution theories we used were novel. Many of the statutes that we charged under…hadn’t been charged as crimes before…We’re looking to find the next areas of conduct that meets any sort of statutory definition of what criminal conduct is.'”(page 96)

    Roberts and Stratton continue:

    “Milken was subject to the whims of regulators and prosecutors who criminalized regulatory infractions. Indeed, the Securities and Exchange Commission has categorically refused to define insider trading–an alleged Milken offense–on the ground that defining the offense would reduce their discretion in bringing the charge.”!


    “Ignoring the constitutional protection against ex post facto law, government bureaucrats made up the law as they went along in order to fashion a net with which to catch Milken.”

    They made it up! They continue to make it up! They continue to pretend they are wise, just, and virtuous. And they arrogantly continue to believe that THEY have the final word. They don’t; the people do. And it is high time they knew it.

    Our judicial system is now evil to the core.

    The people who run it must keep the commoners blind about the heritage of their legal system because once Americans understand its history it will expose these officials to be criminals who have usurped their powers and the Constitution. They don’t want to happen ($$$$)

    I’m so sorry for all your troubles. I ask God to richly bless you and your efforts to defend your rights. I ask that He blesses you with comfort, sharp thinking, strength, and excellent health.

    John Locke wrote:

    “I have no reason to suppose, that he, who would take away my Liberty, would not when he had me in his Power, take away every thing else.”

    This the place where American law is right now. No lawyer who has a shred of understanding about Constitution would have sat idly by (in silent collusion as they say these days) and allow this criminal enterprise called Obamacare come to fruition without a serious fight. But lawyers just say by doing NOTHING. What crooks! What destroyers of liberty!

    It may not comfort you, but it is not just you that these evil monsters are stalking, it is all of us outside the legal field. We are all of us their target. And not for the sake justice, but for the sake of their money and their power. We are their enemy by virtue only of their saying so.

    Big law is worse than Big Tobacco and Big Oil. Big Law comes from Big Academe. That is the Holy Hall of the Secular Priests who have appointed themselves gods of right and wrong; good and evil.

    They are more deranged than the Catholic Church was during the height of its power. At least one could prove that the Church was not behaving in accordance with scripture. Not so with the High Priests of Academe and Law.

    They are right simply because they say so and they have the gun to our heads.

  4. Dear BIL Did you know that the Colorado Supreme Court has already ruled that Pro Se litigants are protected by the Equal Protection Act. see Tassian v. People, 1987. The Supreme Court of Colorado found that

    “While equal protection of the laws does not demand that a statute or rule necessarily applies equally to all persons, it does require, under rational basis analysis, that a governmental classification which singles out a group of persons for disparate treatment be rationally founded on differences that are real and not illusory and that such classification be reasonably related to a legitimate state interest…. When the rational basis standard has not been met, the classification must be stricken even if the invalidation results in an additional administrative inconvenience to the governmental body. Administrative convenience, by itself, does not constitute a valid basis for the imposition of disparate treatment upon persons who, with respect to the activity in question, are basically in the same position as others who are not singled out for different treatment. E.g., Rinaldi, 384 U.S. 305, 16 L. Ed. 2d 577, 86 S. Ct. 1497 ; Baxstrom, 383 U.S. 107, 15 L. Ed. 2d 620, 86 S. Ct. 760 ; Carter v. Firemen’s Pension Fund, 634 P.2d 410 (Colo. 1981); see also Petrafeck, 191 Colo. 566, 554 P.2d 1097…..

    “The distinction created by the chief judge’s directive appears to be a distinction not between lawyers and non-lawyers but between pro se litigants and litigants represented by lawyers. The classifying feature of the chief judge’s directive, therefore, is the pro se litigant’s failure to retain an attorney in connection with a claim for which a statutory filing fee is required. The constitutional flaw in the directive is the lack of a rational foundation …the differences between pro se litigants and litigants represented by attorneys are so attenuated and illusory as to render the classification created by the chief judge’s directive arbitrary and irrational…. Such measures, however, cannot arbitrarily discriminate against the pro se litigant who, as much as the litigant represented by counsel, has the right to seek judicial relief for the redress of legal wrongs in accordance with procedures applicable to all who use the courts.”….

    “The People assert that a rational basis for the classification can be found in the special relationship between lawyers and courts, in that the license to practice law and the obligation to conform to the Code of Professional Responsibility…. The chief judge’s directive at issue here clearly discriminates against pro se litigants solely on the basis of their pro se status and, in that respect, lacks any rational basis in fact and thus violates equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by article II, section 25 of the Colorado Constitution….. While an equal protection challenge generally arises in the context of statutory enactments, it applies equally to judicial action. E.g. Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 92 L. Ed. 1161, 68 S. Ct. 836 (1948); Virginia v. Rives, 100 U.S. 313, 25 L. Ed. 667, (1879); Ex parte Virginia, 100 U.S. 339, 25 L. Ed. 676 (1879).

    *fn5 Article II, section 6 of the Colorado Constitution states that “[c]ourts of justice shall be open to every person, and a speedy remedy afforded for every injury to person, property or character; and right and justice should be administered without sale, denial or delay.

    Tassian v. People, 731 P.2d 672 (Colo. 01/20/1987)
    Colorado Supreme Court No. 84SC389 731 P.2d 672, 1987.CO.40544

  5. Dear anon nurse: My highest priority at this point is to get them to pay me and my family real money so we can get on with our lives. My father always told me that to get a solution it is necessary for both parties to have a situation they can live with. The reason I continued in litigation for all these years is that I couldn’t live with the options they gave me.

    At this point too I am really intellectually engaged. I’m spending a lot of time reading and thinking about law.

    Dear Tootie: As I remember it, the Bay of Pigs disaster involved closed thinking by people similar to those running Washington today.

    In my most recent court proceedings, Sieverding v. DOJ, DDC 09-0562, DOJ was represented by a very young new hire a graduate of Stanford. So he had a good resume and was a real wordsmith but they could distance themselves from him by assigning him without co-counsel to my and apparently over 45 other civil lawsuits against the government.

    I sued under the Privacy Act. It is over 7,000 words and filled with subsections. When DOJ responded it was with something that I didn’t even know could exist. It was called a motion to dismiss but it brought in information from outside the pleadings, which it didn’t support with documents or citations. I was so confused and I only had 10 days to respond. Now, over a year later, I know more about law.

    I went back to what DOJ filed and found out that they quoted a subsection that had an exceptions clause but they deleted the exceptions clause and substituted the words “any provision of the Act” for the words “except subsections (b), (c)(1) and (2), (e)(4)(A) through (F), (e)(6), (7), (9), (10), and (11)”
    see ddc 09-0562 document 8-2 p. 8

    One idea I’ve been suggesting is that we could get state referendums to make the state attorney regulation counsel (attorney ethics regulator) an elected office. Or it could be a board that would be subject to open meetings and open records laws.

  6. Crazy much?

    There’s a huge difference between trial lawyers and politicians.

    Trail lawyers are the ones who’ll keep you out of prison when the politicians try to abuse the Constitution by say something like trying to outlaw homosexuality based on a 2000 year old fairy tale instead of realizing that equal protection applies to all, not just the Hetero-Jesus Choose Me crowd.

  7. I think the death penalty does have to be suspended because lawyers, prosecutors, and judges are so profoundly corrupt and evil. I even consider them more corrupt and evil than, say, a BP oil executive who, apparently, in his worst moment is more of a blessing to my life than some pukeface lawyer out to criminalize breathing, eating, thinking, and being a human being.

    I was happy to see it said that the guilt or innocence of the accused is of the utmost importance. What a relief.

    Even so, it is lawyers, prosecutors, and judges who continue to fail in the pursuit of justice when they fail to tell the public about jury nullification: that great tradition of Anglo-Saxon justice.

    From their point of view, the more crimes and the more criminals there are in the world, the more rich they become. A country overloaded with wealthy judges and lawyers (as we now see today) is a country in which lawyers and judges have insured themselves a steady income through corrupt laws that provide themselves a steady supply of criminals (made by unjust and oppressive laws).

    It is quite a gig.

    It is lawyers who create a demand for their services (their wealth) by lobbying legislatures and by becoming legislators.

    What a scam!

    This angst about really bad thing which happens in our corrupt system seems so phony. It appears to be a cover-up for the whole system of corruption by lawyers themselves. Their outrage about obvious errors makes it look like they care. I think they are just embarrassed that their corrupt system is exposed by tragedies like this case and they don’t want that much light shined on their shenanigans.

    Lawyers, prosecutors, and judges want the focus taken off their corruption and opposing obvious case like this cover-up their participation in a system they have corrupted themselves. The jury could have nullified this case long before some stupid politician got involved in it. But you can be sure some gredy lawyers, prosecutors, or judges neglected to inform the public about nullification beforehand.

    So we see the cheap shot: blame a politician (he’s probably a lawyer!). And especially blame the one you don’t like.

    I’m not fooled by any of these snakes.

    If lawyers, prosecutors, and judges (or even people of supposed good will and ethics) really were concerned about injustice they would be broadcasting to the public on a daily basis (and I say even in the notice for jury duty) of the lawful right, indeed the supreme morality, of jurors to nullify.

    And furthermore, if lawyers, prosecutors, and judges were honest (HA HA HA HA and HA) they would be teaching Americans the honorable history of the concept as it came down to us in our great Western legal tradition. But they don’t think it is great and that is why they trample it all the while claiming to follow the letter of the law. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.

    It might hurt Big Law and its money grubbing blood-suckers and vampires if they taught Americans about nullification and the traditions of our system as they come from the Anglo-Saxons, the Right of Englishmen, the Magna Charta, and reaching back to even Greece and the Old Testament.

    They cannot take that chance. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.

    I’m hoping Big Law isn’t too big to fail.

    So they focus on the obvious corruption of their own system (claiming it was a stupid politician), and they politicize it, demonize a whole political class (which they are actively involved in battling) and they try to get our attention off of the real problem: themselves, a priestly caste of know-it-alls who feel they must do our thinking for us because they are superior to us.

  8. Kay,

    Who would ever think that a mere complaint could take the twists and turns that it did in your case. I’m guessing that you’ve tried to get someone in the media to help you, but it’s not easy. Nor is it easy to find justice these days in a system that is not only overburdened but, oftentimes, corrupt, as well.

    (Did you read the update on the Bell, CA situation? There may have some parallels to your own situation, but I’m just guessing. By this I mean, rampant corruption in city government…)

    As it’s been said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but veers toward justice.” The Tim Master’s story is a case in point — thanks for sharing it.

    As we struggle to make this world a better place, we have to “keep fighting the good fight”, as a friend often reminds me about our own predicament (for lack of a better word). (There’s a Japanese proverb that I like: Fall down seven times, get up eight.) I hope you find some measure of justice and peace.

  9. ps

    “Outside the public employment context, plaintiffs must prove the following elements to establish a retaliation claim: (1) that the plaintiff was engaged in constitutionally protected activity; (2) that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in that activity; and (3) that the defendant’s adverse action was substantially motivated as a response to the plaintiff’s exercise of constitutionally protected conduct.” Evans v. Fogarty 241 Fed. Appx. 542; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 20177

  10. Well there just aren’t any consequences. As I blogged about before, I was charged criminally without any evidence that I broke any laws at all and without a written statement of probable cause. The stated reason was that I complained about my neighbor building extra buildings that violated the zoning so he could open a bed and breakfast establishment. That was just for a misdemeanor and if I had plea bargained I probably would have got probation. As it was I pled not guilty but it still ruined my life.

    I was researching malicious prosecution recently and I found cases saying that unless you were actually in custody, forced to appear in court or had other liberty interests violated (which I did because a permanent restraining order was issued on me on the stated basis that there was a criminal charge against me) that the party unjustly prosecuted shouldn’t get a dime no matter how much they were inconvenienced or how much money they spent on a defense lawyer even if there was no statement as to what the probable cause was. I had two lawyers and neither one admitted to me that there was no written statement of probable cause or that it was against the state statute for them to continue without an arraignment or that it was against the state statute to dismiss the criminal charge without having a hearing in court where they would explain why. I had to find that out for myself.

    Dr. Stephen Hatfill sued the government for telling potential employers and the public that he was probably the source of the anthrax letters but never actually charging him. He won and the government paid him $5.6 Million according to the settlement agreement on PACER in the District of Columbia
    Case 1:03-cv-01793-RBW Document 237-1 Filed 06/27/08
    however, DOJ will not even publicly admit why they paid him and they put in a report on their accomplishments as an accomplishment a notice that his claims were dismissed without admitting that they paid him later. That dragged out for five years even though he had four lawyers.

    When I complained that my neighbor was building these extra buildings I thought they couldn’t do anything to me for complaining since I was telling the truth but it turns out they can just charge you with a crime without a statement of probable cause and without any evidence that a crime was even committed. It’s called First Amendment Retaliation when its done because of something you said but apparently prosecutors just charge people because they want to solve crimes. In Master’s case they apparently thought he made a credible criminal because he lived in a trailer and drew some gross pictures when he was 15.

  11. Kay,

    Regarding, “To me the withholding of exculpatory evidence is shocking but apparently prosecutors do it all the time.”

    It’s shocking to me, as well. Who was that said (about something else), “It should shock the conscience of each of us…”, or something to that effect? That sentiment would apply here, in my opinion.

    What am I missing, though? The idea of a fund makes sense, if the truth eventually comes to light, but what about penalties for the suppression of evidence, in general. Shouldn’t prosecutors know that if they suppress evidence of any kind that there will be serious and severe consequences?

  12. Thanks, Buddha. From where I’m sitting (a very uncomfortable seat, at the moment), I don’t see any way out of this mess that we’re in, short of a miracle.

    In another thread (and addressing Obama), you wrote: “Until you do the right thing and set loose the DOJ on the Bush Administration, you’re simply and aider and abettor of GOP high crimes and treason.

    You absolutely right, of course, but I doubt that any of the Bush criminals will ever be held accountable. Just as I doubt that the truth about Bush’s PSP will come to light anytime soon, if ever. (The most wicked stuff is going on domestically but it’s covert and so it continues…)

    Glenn Greenwald has said that “Decadent governments often spawn a decadent citizenry. The corruption in Bell, CA is just one small example. There’s so much more that hasn’t yet come to light.

  13. Dear Anon nurse

    There is a seldom quoted Supreme Court case

    DENNIS v. SPARKS ET AL., 101 S. Ct. 183, 449 U.S. 24 (U.S. 11/17/1980)

    that says that judges can be arrested for acts for which they can’t be sued. You’d think the same would be true for prosecutors. To me the withholding of exculpatory evidence is shocking but apparently prosecutors do it all the time.

    There should be a fund set aside for damages so that when the evidence first appears that a charged or convicted person is innocent, the prosecutor won’t feel financially pressured to cover it up.

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