Friday, April 05, 2013

Forensic panel to review final report on DPS crime lab debacle

Here's where Grits is headed this morning, via AP:
The Texas Forensics Science Commission meets Friday in Austin to get an update on its review of a crime lab worker who may have tainted thousands of drug cases with shoddy or misleading work.

Jonathan Salvador was a forensic scientist at state crime lab in Houston. He was suspended in 2012 after his work came into question and state officials have been reviewing his work dating back to 2006.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has already set aside at least 16 drug convictions from Galveston County. The forensics panel says the total number of cases handled by Salvador is almost 5,000 from 36 counties
N.b., by my count, the number of convictions overturned so far based on this debacle is actually 17. The AP story adds that, "The Texas Rangers have also investigated Salvador. It's unclear if that investigation is still open or if he will be charged." But in fact the investigation is complete and last year a Harris County grand jury no-billed Mr. Salvador in the drylabbing episode. Losing his job was the only consequence he'll apparently face, no matter how deep the rabbit hole goes. Let's hope for a change there are a few more journalists there to cover the story. I bet there will be.

MORE: See coverage of the meeting from AP and the Texas Tribune, which were the only outlets who sent reporters. I'm a bit surprised the Houston Chronicle sent no one.

See prior, related Grits coverage of the Salvador fiasco.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Few points here:

1. What charge was presented to the grand jury? Falsifying a government document? That seems to be in the DPS report, but who knows what was actually presented.

2. Should the Harris County DA not have appointed a special prosecutor? Is there no some appearance of impropriety with a DA chubbing a grand jury inquiry because if they indict the guy then hundreds of prosecutions are at risk in Harris County?

3. Was the initial discovery on a Harris County case?

4. Could he be indicted in any other counties for any other falsifications? From what I remember, there were several cases he was busted on once they looked into his past.

Anonymous said...

Also,

5. Have the DPS Lab Supervisors been reprimanded for failing to train the lab analyst properly and allowing him to continue to work knowing that he was incompetent?

6. Will the accreditation agency ASCLD/LAB be accountable for not finding these problems earlier during their annual audits and proficiency testing of the lab analyst?

7. Was perjury involved with any of the criminal proceedings in which the lab analyst provided an expert witness opinion?

Anonymous said...

Grits-

Since the MSM has decided that the FSC is akin to a failed 8th-grade science project, could you give your readers a more detailed account of what was discussed? They had a large agenda posted on their webpage. Some of this information may be important for presently occurring criminal proceedings.

Sure would be nice if they video recorded these meetings for broadcast on the interwebs. How difficult could that be?

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