Monday, April 07, 2014

Report: Systemic problems with Houston crime lab employee

This MyFoxHouston item (April 1) by Isiah Carey alleging problems at the Houston crime lab is too vague to be probative, but it provides provocative hints:
new internal investigation underwayat HPD's Crime Lab.  It all came to light after an employee we're not identifying abruptly resigned in mid-March.

That investigation examines whether the employee - a criminalist for two years - did not follow procedures.  Our sources tell us it's how the former worker handled evidence in criminal cases assigned to the division. ...
FOX 26 Legal Analyst Chris Tritico says he believes the crime lab worker's actions have the potential to harm cases that are currently in the hands of the D.A.'s office.

Tritico says, "they have to notify defense attorneys and every defendant that's been affected by this person's work."

A spokesperson for HPD confirms the internal probe but declined to go into any detail about how many cases if any could be affected by the former crime lab employee.
We've obtained an internal memo written by HPD's Crime Lab Director IrmaRios.
It's the notification of the former employee's resignation from the crime lab. In that memo Rios says quote - I would not recommend the worker be rehired.
Impossible to tell from that tidbit what the problems might be, but stay tuned.

Whether issues with this employee rise to the level of the Jonathan Salvador fiasco remains to be seen, but this issue of how to respond to systemic forensic errors promises to be a recurring theme for 21st century criminal justice.

MORE: From attorney Paul Kennedy at The Defense Rests, who speculates that the former crime lab employee under investigation may be Michael Manes, former manager of the Toxicology section who "has left the building and is now working in Montgomery County with the Sheriff's Office or as a forensic-analyst-for-hire depending on who you talk to." Kennedy's suspicions were heightened because "a current case of mine has a lab report [in which] Mr. Manes performed the technical review (looking at the paperwork) last summer but was suddenly re-reviewed by a new supervisor in mid-March with no apparent explanation." A commenter supplied a link to Manes' LinkedIn page, which hasn't been updated to denote his departure from the Houston crime lab. He previously worked for the Brazoria County Sheriff then for a lab in the Woodlands operated by Sam Houston State University before joining then leaving HPD.

4 comments:

John David Galt said...

Someone please name and shame him/her.

Anonymous said...

Mike Manes resigned during the article's time frame.

Anonymous said...

If Manes, he was "Toxicology Lab Manager" for a year and a half according to his LinkedIn page, which hasn't been updated to say he resigned. So if it was him, we're talking about drug cases.

Anonymous said...

A Gypsy Cop,

A Gypsy ADA,

And A Gypsy criminalist, forensic-analyst

walked into a bar and talked shit about all of those damn criminals running the streets.

*It wasn't meant to be funny, it was meant to make you wonder why in the hell we allow public servants that go bad to simply change zip codes like it never even happened. Those that hire the rogue are guilty of keeping it real.