Long before the Austin Police Department’s DNA crime lab was shuttered, prosecutors and defense lawyers were second-guessing its work.
In 2009, prosecutors raised red flags about DNA results in a rape case, later dismissed the charges against the suspect and eventually hired two private labs to double check the department’s results before refiling them.
In 2015, a rape suspect’s trial expert said the lab’s results were so riddled with corrections and bad math that the defense should order new tests.
And in early 2016, prosecutors hired an expert to review 17 criminal cases for potential problems. That expert found mistakes in all of them.The story concluded:
Every case the APD lab touched needs to be reviewed, [defense attorney Darla] Davis said.
“This has been bad,” she said. “It’s bad for both sides. It’s a catastrophe for the whole criminal justice system.”She's not overselling it, this is a mind boggling mess. If I were a chief with a crime-lab attached to my department, I'd be looking to offload it to some other agency with scientific expertise, or as an independent entity, like in Houston.
Let's call this story Exhibit A in the case for why cops shouldn't be in charge of scientists.