Thursday, April 23, 2015

Roundup: Court costs, innocence, reentry, and faulty forensics

There's so much happening at the Legislature so quickly right now, good and bad, that it's hardly worth writing about all the moving targets. Perhaps over the weekend there will be time for a more thorough review of where we stand. Meanwhile, here are several non-legislative items which have been clogging up my browser tabs and would merit independent posts if your correspondent didn't have so much going on.

FBI admits to overstated hair analyses
Lots of national press this week on the FBI's overstated forensic testimony involving hair and fiber matches. See here, here, here, here, and here. The Texas Forensic Science Commission, readers will recall, is performing their own review of Texas cases. All of our hair and fiber examiners were trained by the feds and use the same techniques. RELATED: Since seemingly any and every topic these days warrants a clickbait list, see this item from Austin's own Jordan Smith at The Intercept, "Five disturbing things you didn't know about forensic 'science'."

A rare look at court costs
The Austin Monitor's Tyler Whitson took a rare, in-depth look at court costs litigation by former GOP Court of Criminal Appeals candidate Jani Maselli Wood, issues with which Grits readers are familiar but which are admirably laid out in Whitson's article. Related legislation to require courts to produce a bill of costs before defendants must pay them passed out of committee and is waiting on the Calendars Committee to give it a floor vote.

Feds investigating TX immigrant detention conditions
A federal report launched new allegations against an immigration detention center in Pecos, which experienced less-well publicized riots prior to the recent one that closed a unit in Willacy County.

SA4 seek innocence declaration
See coverage of the San Antonio Four's habeas writ seeking actual-innocence based exoneration.

Reentry stories
NPR's John Burnett examined the circumstances surrounding the 21,000+ TDCJ inmates released from Huntsville every year.


Anonymous said...

Every Texan should be required to stand at the walls on a release day. Sad and sobering to see the fear of freedom.

Robert Langham said...

Does the FBI have ANY expertise in any field? The only terrorists they catch are entrapped. They screw up forensics. They ignore plain leads when presented with them as in 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings. What, exactly are they good for?