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Firing Back in the Willingham Case

The City of Corsicana, Texas, has responded to the report of Craig Beyler regarding the arson investigation of the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. Janet Jacobs had this story over the weekend in the Corsicana Daily Sun. The tone of the response is rather breezy for such a serious matter. The author is apparently a member of the Kozinski school of contractions. Even so, it provides more pieces to the puzzle.

From the opening paragraphs, it appears that the Forensic Science Commission gave the fire chief one month to investigate and respond to allegations about an 18 year old case. This tends to confirm the suspicions that the commission was engaged in a setup and the governor was correct to replace three members whose terms had expired.

On page 2 is this paragraph:

Dr. Beyler continually uses the phrase "standard of care." NFPA 921 speaks in terms of Recommended Practices and Standards. As I understand it, the phrase "standard of care" is usually used by lawyers and judges when talking about medical care. Corsicana runs an EMS service and that phrase is used to describe what a reasonably prudent EMT (or nurse or physician) would do under the same or similar circumstances based on accepted medical practices. The use of the phrase in this context leaves the impression that Dr. Beyler's report is being written much like an expert witness report in a lawsuit -- that is, Dr. Beyler is assuming the role of an advocate and not acting as an objective, independent voice. Given some of Dr. Beyler's distortions of the trial record, as described below, it may be that he has assumed the role of an advocate.

The response of the state fire marshal is not in yet. We look forward to that response. In the meantime, it would be good for everyone to remember that New Yorker Magazine is not Revealed Truth. I shouldn't have to say that, but people who really should know better (such as Jonathan Adler at VC) seem to be accepting the magazine story uncritically.

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