"This verdict is written on a cocktail napkin. And it still says guilty. And guilty is spelled wrong."

>> Thursday, October 29, 2009

"With Me As Your Law...Talkin' Guy, Your Railroad to the Death Chamber is Ready!"

It's bad enough that various state officials conspired to murder Cameron Todd Willingham based on worthless junk science and the implausible testimony of a mentally ill jailhouse snitch. But apparently one reason that they were able to get away with it is that Willingham's attorney seems inept and slaveringly authoritarian even by the standards of Texas death penalty attorneys:

Now, via Ta-Nehisi Coates, I see that Willingham's defense attorney, David Martin, has been interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper, and his belligerent insistence on Willingham's guilt is, if anything, more shocking than Jackson's blase acceptance of having sent a man to death on the basis of faulty evidence.

Martin, who is in no way a trained arson investigator--let alone a fire scientist--explains that he bought some carpet, poured lighter fluid on it, and set it aflame and it looked "just exactly like the carpet in Todd Willingham's house." On this basis, he concluded, "There was no question whatsoever he was guilty," adding, "That's why they found him guilty, I think, in under 30 minutes." (The quality of his defense obviously couldn't have played a role.)
As Orr says, "see how many times you have to remind yourself that this man was Willingham's defense attorney:"

Can something be unsurprising and still shocking?


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