In case you missed it, Keith Gibson, the manager of the Houston crime lab sent out the following e-mail yesterday:
"Dear District Attorney:
The Department of Public Safety has discovered errors with the analysis of drug evidence conducted by one forensic scientist in our Houston Regional Laboratory. He has been suspended from casework pending an internal investigation. In reanalyzing evidence in one hundred of his most recent cases, we identified errors in two other cases. Because of this discovery, we believe it prudent to review his entire body of work since he began examining evidence in early 2006 – specifically on any cases pending prosecution or which resulted in a conviction or deferred adjudication. Attached is a list of cases from your jurisdiction. If you wish to have the evidence in any of these cases re-analyzed by another DPS Forensic Scientist, please contact Laboratory Manager Keith Gibson at 281-517- 1383. We will then arrange with the law enforcement agency to obtain the evidence from them and complete the re-analysis. A new lab report would then be issued.
We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and are taking additional steps to prevent any such occurrence in the future.
Keith A. Gibson
Regional Laboratory Manager
Texas DPS Houston Crime Laboratory"
A list of 420 cases was attached to the e-mail that was sent to me, which are either pending, have resulted in deferreds or convictions or some other disposition. As you can see, Mr. Gibson doesn't name the forensic scientist. We're pulling the files to see who it is.
My question is what are our duties, given this information? Do we need to forward this e-mail to all the defense attorneys who represent/represented the defendants? Do we need to have all the submitted suspected controlled substances in all cases, open and closed, re-analyzed (assuming they can even be located at this point)?
Rob Kepple at TDCAA here. We have been talking to a number of folks who got that same message. Here is the emerginc consensus on what they are doing:
1) Notify the appropriate courts.
2) Notify the local defense bar.
3) Pull all the cases on the list provided by DPS, and check for convictions.
4) Find the evidence, if it still exists, and submit to DPS for re-testing.
5) For cases with a bad re-test or with now-destroyed evidence, request that the court appoint an attorney to take the case through the appropriate process.
Folks are shying away from trying to notify individual attorneyes who may have represented the defendants originally, because those folks probably don't represent the defendants now and nothing will get done. Best to get the cases tested first, which is what really needs to happen first, and if there are problems or cases with no evidence, go from there. what do you think?
...and if the case is still pending, I think folks are notifying the defense attorney employed on the case and getting those re-tested asap. the problem with who to notify comes up in the very old cases that have been disposed of for many years...
Questions, anyone? Call me at 512-474-2436.
This entry on our front page also addresses it:
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