The title of this one is unimaginative, but I couldn't really think of a creative way to explain yet another corrupt link in the chain of Harris County Justice. I wish I could say it was unusual that Harris County DWI cases are highly suspect, except that just a few months ago about 2,600 other cases were thrown into doubt because a technician wasn't calibrating the breathalyzer machines like she claimed.
The new 13-county crime lab has been much-touted for use in DNA testing, and when DNA evidence is involved in a case it is crucial for both the prosecution to ensure they've got the right guy and the defense to expose it if they don't, but this is yet another case that shows that there's plenty of room to improve all procedures where evidence is an issue--in other words, in every case.
Simple Justice has an excellent follow-up on the Ted Stevens debacle that demonstrates this exact same issue at a different level. In Stevens' case the judge accepted the prosecutors' statements as per se truth, because they're the government and we all know the government wouldn't lie. This most recent HPD issue is more of a bottom-up problem, because cops on the stand are accepted as speaking The Word of God by juries, and they are accepted as credible even in cases like this where they clearly should not be. Why? Just because.
Criminal law is the last bastion of junk science in the courthouse. John Edwards made millions off of it in civil cases in an area that has been soundly discredited, and it has long been fought out in civil courts that scientific processes should apply to expert testimony. But in criminal trials we have only recently begun to expose the junk science of arson testimony, the Texas legislature is only now attempting to limit the use of faulty eye-witness procedures (that's not truly scientific, but their arguments related to why we need change are supported by actual science), and maybe someday we'll get to a point where we don't convict someone based on a cop looking into someone's eyes and claiming they moved funny so they know the defendant was intoxicated.
Especially when that cop shouldn't be trusted in the first place.
There Goes a Man
10 months ago