Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tarrant defense lawyer seeks more info on drylabbing serologist

Not everybody in Tarrant County is pleased with the no-harm-no-foul outcome of the drylabbing episode at the Tarrant County medical examiner, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported ("Attorney seeks release of documents on serologist who falsified reports," Oct. 23). The article opened:
A prominent Fort Worth criminal defense attorney is seeking additional information on a county serologist, who was disciplined by the state's top forensic board for professional misconduct but was not prosecuted.

The serologist, who resigned in March after a supervisor discovered that he had fabricated test results for two unopened rape kits, may have "committed a crime" in the lab of the medical examiner's office, attorney Mark Daniel said.

He "knowingly falsified forensic laboratory results," Daniel said, and could be subject to a third-degree felony, such as making a false entry in a government record.

Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon's office said it hasn't pursued an indictment because no one has asked it to.

"No defense attorney nor anyone else has presented a proposed criminal case to this office," spokeswoman Melody McDonald said. "If that is done, we will be happy to take a look."

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office reported the incident to the Texas Forensic Science Commission after the false reports were discovered. The serologist was immediately suspended and soon resigned.

It was later discovered that results of several rape kits had been falsified without testing. Such misconduct is called "drylabbing."
As this was described at the Forensic Science Commission this was basically a case of laziness. The labworker sometimes didn't test rape kits, for example, when the offense report didn't include penetration, drawing conclusions without performing examinations or testing. OTOH, while it's another example of corroboration inflation as it regards the victim account, one wouldn't necessarily see those sort of shortcuts as a practice likely to suborn a false conviction. But you never know, I suppose, until somebody takes a closer look.

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DEWEY said...

"Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon's office said it hasn't pursued an indictment because no one has asked it to."

I'm asking.

Anonymous said...

Across the county line, Dallas DA's office is happy to look into possible wrongful conviction cases, and sets up unit to do that. Tarrant County DA sits back and waits for formal request to look into troubling situation right under its nose ... is there a lesson here. For example, that Joe Shannon is too busy giving jobs to his old friends and enjoying the benefits of his position to do justice?

Anonymous said...

"...Texas Forensic Science Commission, member Arthur Eisenberg..said it appeared the serologist had been 'lazy'..."

(says the TFSC who took 2.5 years to perform their first investigation for which they had no jurisdiction.)

Perhaps the Tarrant County DA's Office is 'lazy' for not following-up with criminal charges.

Dr. Eisenberg- learn the definition of "professional ethics". Then practice.

Or, ask John Bradley what "monster" means as it relates to his position as TFSC Chair.

Anonymous said...

... "A prominent Fort Worth criminal defense attorney" ... Prominent?

Ed Brown said...

These cases of drylabbing and false lab reports make defense independent testing of evidence to verify state's lab result critical.

Defense should be encourage to seeking independent testing in each case involving prison sentence. said...

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Anonymous said...

If Sharen Wilson was DA at the time, it would have been prosecuted. Richard Alpert was on the State Forensic Committee at the time. Alpert may have been the reasons why not prosecuted to not embarrass him on a state level. However, see this story about Alpert and comments: