CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Giannelli on Junk Science and the Execution of an Innocent Man

Giannelli_paulPaul C. Giannelli (Case Western Reserve University School of Law) has  posted Junk Science and the Execution of an Innocent Man (New York University Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 7, No. 2 (2013)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Cameron Todd Willingham was tried and executed for the arson deaths of his three little girls. The expert testimony offered against him to establish arson was junk science. 

The case has since become infamous, the subject of an award-winning New Yorker article, numerous newspaper accounts, and several television shows. It also became enmeshed in the death penalty debate and the reelection of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who refused to grant a stay of execution after a noted arson expert submitted a report debunking the “science” offered at Willingham’s trial. The governor then attempted to derail an investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission into the arson evidence presented at Willingham’s trial.

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