Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Good Idea

Congratulations to Pat Lykos for announcing a new policy of testing all forensic evidence in cases where it is "relevant and available". In the Chronicle article, she also again states her desire to have a regional crime lab, stating: "You cannot expect a police department, no matter how large, to oversee a crime lab".

I agree with her completely on this particular issue, and I think it is an extremely noble idea. It was also one echoed by pretty much all of the candidates in the 2008 D.A.'s race.

I will be curious to see how quickly this idea is put into place, and more interestingly, where the money is going to come from to pay for it.


Anonymous said...

To bad the people who work for her had to find out about the new policy by reading the Chron.


Anonymous said...

Great new policy, but other DA's offices (who don't call themselves "the greatest" DA's office in the world) have had this policy for near 20 years.

Questions need to be asked. Why didn't the police submit the kit to DPS crime lab in Houston for DNA testing? Why didn't the prosecutors require it? Why didn't the last bastion of defense, the defense attorney, request it before a frigging trial? A systemic breakdown.

As a prosecutor, I couldn't imagine trying a case with a rape kit with possible dna evidence that has not been submitted to a crime lab.

It would be highly understandable that a case could get up to a trial date without DNA being done. That's when, during trial prep, you and the D atty go "oh shit" and file a mutual motion to continue, because, as we all know, that evidence could be inculpatory or exculpatory.

The excuses about the HPD crime lab being closed don't wash. There are the DPS labs in Houston, Austin and elsewhere. Or the DA's office could use some of the MILLIONS of dollars that Johnny and Chucky stockpiled in asset forfeitures to pay a private lab to do it.

Worse case scenario, the DA's office won't pay for the private test, the PD won't pay for the test, have the D atty make a motion to ask the court to pay for it. If the court refuses to pay and it ends up exonerating a D, guess who has egg on their face.

I know everyone makes mistakes, and Lord knows I've made more than my fair share in this business. One of the few things Bennett says that I agree with is that when a case is tried, everyone has a little hair in their soup.

But there is absolutely no excuse for this sort of failure. I'd be curious to know who the prosecutors and defense attorney(s) were. Are the prosecutors still prosecuting?

Anonymous said...

The DA that was on the case is now a Defense attorney and the Defense attorney that defended the case still practices on the defense side.

Very simple solution - the officer MUST (by law) submit all evidence that could have DNA for testing and if the case gets disposed of; the DA has a duty to notify the lab via email or web-based service.

Rage Judicata said...

3:34, the defense atty claims he was told there was no DNA to be tested, so he didn't file a motion to have it tested.

So, while I agree that it was a systematic breakdown, that breakdown appears to have been in the DA's system.

Anonymous said...

I read the report in Sunday's paper. The Chron has a link to it in dufus rick's column.

Sad stuff, but two heroes emerge. Sally Ring and Mark Donnelly. They led by example.