Another complaint has been filed against the Austin Police Department's crime lab, this time by an independent lab in North Texas that claims it received different results than the Austin lab when testing the same drug evidence.
Crime lab officials in Austin said they received the complaint filed by Integrated Forensic Laboratories in Euless, between Dallas and Fort Worth, late last week.I wonder if the allegations of drylabbing (submitting results without having done the testing) and the incongruous lab results are related? If you submit results without testing the evidence, that would certainly open the door for another lab to come out with different findings.
Austin police and lab officials have begun looking at the complaint this week and are preparing a response, said Bill Gibbens, the lab's forensic manager. Gibbens said he hopes to send a response to the Texas Forensic Science Commission by Friday.
It is the second complaint the Austin lab has faced this year. In January, a former crime lab scientist who was fired last year alleged that lab administrators do not have proper accreditation and that drug evidence was not analyzed before reports were submitted.
Gibbens said the latest complaint deals with two separate pending criminal cases from 2010. Because they are moving through the courts, he said, he could not discuss the details .
After the Austin police lab submitted its drug evidence tests to the courts, the suspects' attorneys asked for a second opinion from the independent lab in Euless, Gibbens said. That lab returned different test results than the Austin lab, he said.
"It's a difference of opinion in how we report substances," Gibbens said.
Gibbens said he's not sure how common it is for one lab to file a complaint on another lab. "It's the first time it's happened to us," he said.
Lynn Robitaille, the general counsel for the Texas Forensic Science Commission, said that it was the first time she had seen one lab file a complaint on another since she started there in December 2010. The commission was created by the state Legislature in 2005.
Robitaille said the commission's complaint screening committee heard the matter Friday. When they meet again in March, they are expected to recommend whether the commission should investigate the matter.