Saturday, September 20, 2014

Texas Blood Testing: A Racket

First, let me start off with a very important fact that many may not know: for every single DWI conviction in the state of Texas, Texas DPS sends a separate bill (outside of all the fees and punishment in court) called a DWI surcharge that ranges from $3,000 to $6,000 (depends on the type of DWI) to the convicted citizen. They have even tried to do it to people who possess out of state licenses although they don't qualify for the surcharge. Anyone who thinks Texas DPS does not have a financial interest in DWI convictions is sorely mistaken.

My story is just one of many across the state and it is shameful to share. This week I went to court to discuss a ".09" blood test, first time DWI with a prosecutor in Dallas. I explained that my client and I had the blood retested with a better qualified lab, one which is well respected in private industry and whom the federal government uses (Department of Health and Human Services). The result cameASCLD (American Society of of Crime Lab Directors) certification. ASCLD certification is fraught with problems. For example, a "blind audit" is not random at all. These huge deviances from proper standards has caused several states to disassociate with ASCLD, including the U.S. Army. Also on record is ASCLD's continued support of substandard forensic labs despite the reporting of serious lab errors it has failed to take proper corrective action on, some of which have resulted in litigation. The bottom line is that the proper standards of operating guidelines and procedures are necessary. This is seriously lacking in the Texas DPS- ASCLD certification process. To deprive a citizen accused of the right to have their blood independently tested is a ploy to insulate itself from scrutiny while rubber stamping essentially substandard work if one factors in the ASCLD issues versus industry peer review.
back .07. Once you consider a margin of uncertainty of .02, my client's blood ranges from .05 to .11 depending on which sample you rely on. The assistant district attorney told me she would not consider the retest as this lab was not "Texas DPS certified" (which is the law). Most forensic labs in Texas get their state mandated Texas DPS certification by paying the fee and applying for

The new "Michael Morton" discovery law forces DA(s) to hand over all the evidence. A law had to be passed to make this happen. Enacted this past January, previous to this prosecutors willingly withheld evidence that could prove someone not guilty (Michael Morton spent 25 years in prison for a murder he did not commit). There is no difference in withholding evidence and denying one the right to have evidence independently tested. It is a farce to create a subterfuge (requiring a "Texas DPS" certification) for the district attorney not to consider all the evidence. This law cannot withstand basic due process arguments in appellate court. Until then, it is necessary to repeal this "Texas DPS certified" only law where no citizen of Texas can get blood testing outside a Texas DPS approved lab. Just a short time ago, Texas DPS was still using a"single point" ethanol control in test batches despite legal ramifications at both .08 and .15.

The only thing that Dallas prosecutor was interested in that morning was how to convict my client, not the truth. No one cares until the injustice happens to them or a loved one. It is time to make Texas fair for everyone. A false conviction is a travesty, not something politicians should be proud of or we the public allow. If the government labs were so good, why are they scared of having their work retested? Here is an article on problems with Texas DPS, representative of the lax standards in forensic labs that exist still today in way too many places: Texas DPS Lab Problems

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