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August 05, 2004
This Time, It's Texas

I'm sure I blogged about the whole problem with Houston quite a long time ago, but I can't find the post now. (I should have listened to Jonathan. I should never have deleted all of those older posts, should I?)

The police crime laboratory in Houston, already reeling from a scandal that has led to retesting of evidence in 360 cases, now faces a much larger crisis that could involve many thousands of cases over 25 years.

Anyone want to contemplate the Texas death penalty rate and consider the odds....

And this jurisdiction has produced more executions than any other county in America."

I knew it.

This isn't a one-time failure of the process. This is long-time, systematic fraud that may have led to death(s).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that would be murder, right?

The man in charge:

Mr. Bolding retired in 2003 after police investigators recommended that he be terminated for various professional and supervisory failures, including submitting false information to auditors in 2000 and 2001.

Last month, a judge in Midland, Tex., dismissed perjury charges against Mr. Bolding, saying the statute of limitations had expired. In that case, Mr. Bolding was accused of overstating his academic credentials in a 2002 sexual assault trial. He said a court reporter had transcribed his testimony incorrectly.

No word about any potential new action that might be taken against him.

There's no statute of limitations on murder, of course.

Though DNA is often thought of as a tool for exonerations, prosecutors in Mr. Sutton's case had used it to convict him, submitting false scientific evidence asserting that there was a solid match between Mr. Sutton's DNA and that found at the crime scene. In fact, 1 of every 8 black people, including Mr. Sutton, shared the relevant DNA profile. More refined retesting cleared him.

In essence, he was convicted of being black?

In another case:

Mr. Rodriguez had an alibi: he was working at a factory that made bed frames at the time of the rape, and his boss swore to that in court.

Boggles. The. Mind. How can you prove someone committed a crime if they have a solid alibi? (Of course, we're not getting the details of these cases. I guess we can assume they decided Rodriguez's boss was lying and that they charged him with perjury, for which he, now incorrectly, it seems, was forced to do some time?)

As it happens, they had the actual criminal (it was a rape trial) but said crime lab expert swore that guy was innocent. Absolutely no way he could have done it. Except that better DNA testing shows he is, in fact, an "exact" DNA match to evidence found at the crime scene.

Understand, DNA is a science, but it's not an exact science. Still, in the hands of someone competent, it's more exact than Houstone makes it look.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:21 PM