Posts filtered by tags: Forensic Science Commission[x]


 

Radio silence re: ransomware attack on Texas courts

Your correspondent received a notice my information was in a data breach at a company called Blackbaud which is a digital platform for managing nonprofit donors. The company paid a ransomware demand, despite advisories against doing so from the US Treasury. Insurance companies, by contrast, have defended ransomware payouts. This reminds me we've received almost zero information about the ransomware attack on Texas courts last year, and no journalist of whom I'm aware has dug into the topic beyon...
Tags: Texas, Law, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Science Commission, Office of Court Administration, US Treasury Insurance


Roundup: Oversight overlooked, the I-35 Fine Corridor, a last chance to end forensic hypnosis, and more

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Agency regulating judges toothless and useless Texas' State Commission on Judicial Conduct is a toothless agency. Its investigators appear to do a good job, but they're too cozy with the judges they regulate and the results just don't sufficiently protect the public. This Houston Chronicle editorial speaks to that point: "The State Commission on Judicial Conduct should be embarrassed by the wrist slap it gave three current and eig...
Tags: Texas, Law, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Houston Chronicle, Legislature, Fifth Circuit, Harris County, McAllen, CCA, Don Willett, Texas Legislature, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Canales, Chuck Lindell


Policing policy, forensic follies, the high cost of treating Hep C in prison, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention: Lawsuit seeking Hep C treatment could come with BIG pricetag More than 18,000 Texas prison inmates have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C - almost certainly an undercount since TDCJ does not do comprehensive testing - but only a tiny handful receive treatment. The Houston Chronicle reported on a new federal lawsuit demanding they receive treatment, which could cost up to $63,000 per person. See prior Grits coverage and video of test...
Tags: Texas, Law, Congress, Oregon, Scotland, Police, US, Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma, St Louis, FSC, EMS, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, HARRIS


Funding needed to bolster Office of Capital and Forensic Writs

My Reasonably Suspicious podcast co-host, Amanda Marzullo, who is the executive director of the Texas Defender Service, asked me to publish this guest blog post she authored advocating for expanded resources for the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. Give it a read:Members of the Senate Finance Committee’s Article IV Subcommittee should take a lead from their counterpart committee in the House  and adequately fund the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs (OCFW), which has been under-resourced...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, House, Dallas, Senate Finance Committee, Lubbock, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Science Commission, Texas Defender Service, Hinojosa, Office of Capital, Amanda Marzullo, OCFW, Regional Public Defender for Capital Cases


Active death penalty explains efficacy of Texas' junk-science writ

There are three reasons that Grits expects the Lone Star State to emerge as the epicenter of forensic reform over the coming couple of decades. First, our Forensic Science Commission has altered the terms of debate among legislators and stakeholders about how to react when errors and bad science are discovered. I may not agree with everything they put out, but they've educated stakeholders here to a much greater extent than in most other states.Second is Texas' junk-science writ, as discussed on...
Tags: Texas, Law, Obama, Congress, California, Nas, Alcala, Legislature, Lone Star State, National Academy of Sciences, Court of Criminal Appeals, Gritsforbreakfast, Elsa Alcala, Forensic Science Commission, Texas Defender Service, Office of Capital


Bill filed to eliminate forensic hypnosis from Texas courts

Many thanks to State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa for filing SB 130 to eliminate forensic hypnosis from Texas courtrooms. Grits has been fascinated with this topic since we first discussed it on the podcast last year, and reporters at the Dallas News and the Dallas Observer have covered the subject as well. A recent Psychology Today column on the topic concluded that the "cons" related to forensic hypnosis outweighed any "pros." Most states' courts do not allow it. Required textbook for Texa...
Tags: Texas, Law, Bill, Dallas Observer, Legislature, Harris County Sheriff s Office, Texas Legislature, Court of Criminal Appeals, Gritsforbreakfast, Dallas News, Forensic Science Commission, Sen Hinojosa, Juan Chuy Hinojosa, Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Chuy Hinojosa, Pam Colloff Mandy Marzullo


Top 10 junk forensic sciences challenged in Texas

In the wake of the Forensic Science Commission declaring blood-spatter evidence in a 30-year old murder case "not accurate or scientifically supported," Texas has lately again been getting deserved credit as a national leader on forensic reform. Our Forensic Science Commission is the best in the country, according to Innocence Project cofounder Peter Neufeld, and our first-of-its-kind junk science writ has made Texas one of only two states (California followed suit) with the means in place to ch...
Tags: Texas, Law, California, National Academy of Sciences, Collin County, Court of Criminal Appeals, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Science Commission, Innocence Project, Peter Neufeld


Interview: Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the national Innocence Project, on prospects for state and national forensic-science reform

In the December episode of the Reasonably Suspicious podcast, we published an excerpt from an interview Grits conducted with national Innocence Project co-founder Peter Neufeld. We mainly discussed forensic-science topics including the abolition of the national forensic science commission, of which he was a member, and DNA mixture controversies. You can listen to the full interview here.Find a transcript of our conversation below the jump. Transcript: National Innocence Project Co-founder Peter ...
Tags: New York, Texas, Law, Obama, Fbi, Houston, Justice Department, Buffalo New York, NIST, Jeff Sessions, Henson, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Institute, Scott Henson, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Science Commission


Christmas and the Surveillance State: December Reasonably Suspicious podcast

Check out the December edition of Just Liberty's Reasonably Suspicious podcast, covering Texas criminal justice policy and politics. Two great interviews this month - one with reporter Brandi Grissom Swicegood about the alleged abuse and turmoil at the Gainesville State School, and another with Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the national Innocence Project, regarding forensic-science reform. You can listen to the latest episode here, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, or SoundCloud. If y...
Tags: New York, Texas, Justice, Law, Obama, Senate, US, Fbi, Austin, Missouri, House, Aclu, Scott Walker, Dallas, Houston, Santa


Executing non-killers, imagining life without plea bargaining, no oversight for forensic hypnosis, and other stories

Here's a brief, browser-tab clearing roundup of items about which I haven't had time to blog, but of which Grits readers should be aware: Forensic commission can't address 'forensic hypnosis' First, updating an earlier Grits report, I communicated with Lynn Garcia, General Counsel for the Texas Forensic Science Commission, who informs me that forensic hypnosis does not fall under their jurisdiction, even as a general area they're authorized to study, because it does not involve "physical evidenc...
Tags: Texas, Law, India, Canada, Parliament, South, Texas Rangers, Abbott, Gainesville, West Texas, Jeff Wood, Unruh, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Europe India, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ


Sandra Bland Act implementation, inadmissible forensics, the case for corroboration, and other stories

A few tidbits to clear Grits' browser tabs while your correspondent is focused elsewhere and the entire state prays for Houston to dry out:Here are links to all the handouts and biographies of witnesses at a recent Texas House County Affairs Committee hearing on implementation of the Sandra Bland Act.A municipal court judge from Corsicana highlights some less-discussed bills that take effect September 1st.Grits had noted when the Forensic Science Commission asked the Attorney General about the a...
Tags: Texas, Law, Louisiana, Houston, Philadelphia Inquirer, AG, Corsicana, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Science Commission, Vera Institute, Texas House County Affairs Committee


Forensic Science Commission deserves funding, and other stories

A few odds and ends which merit Grits readers' attention:The Texas Senate zeroed out the budget for the Forensic Science Commission, despite that agency having been charged with licensing all forensic technicians by 2019. Surely that cannot stand. The House budget continued to fund the agency with small cuts.The Houston Chronicle makes the case for raising the age of criminal responsibility in Texas from 17 to 18.TDCJ bans more than 15,000 books in Texas prisons; in Utah, they ban only two.A TDC...
Tags: Utah, Texas, Law, House, Houston Chronicle, Texas Senate, Vanita Gupta, Jerry Hartfield, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Forensic Science Commission, Tulia


Top TX criminal-justice story of 2016 easy to spot; the rest are debatable

Looking back at the grotesquery of a year which was 2016 to choose the most important Texas criminal-justice stories, it's not hard to pinpoint the #blacklivesmatter protests surrounding police shootings over the summer - and the murder of five police officers in Dallas by a lone-wolf sniper at a protest - as the most important moment from a reform perspective, not just for Texas but arguably the nation.The Dallas shooting and a handful of other ambush killings of police, including the murder of...
Tags: Texas, Law, Austin, Gop, Rick Perry, Dallas, Houston, Silver, Donald Trump, Fort Worth, Baylor, San Antonio, US supreme court, Alcala, HARRIS, Waco


DPS: 2/3 of Austin DNA lab analysts so bad they can't be retrained

The latest reports from the Austin PD DNA lab almost stun the senses, revealing that 2/3 of DNA analysts employed there were allegedly so incompetent that the DPS crime lab folk don't think they're retrainable. Reported the Austin Statesman:Immediately after the Austin Police Department shuttered parts of its troubled crime lab, police officials asked experts from the Texas Department of Public Safety to help retrain APD staffers with a goal of possibly getting the lab up and running again. But ...
Tags: Texas, Law, Nas, Austin, Houston, Apd, FSC, Hamilton, Austin City Council, Texas Department of Public Safety, DPS, Manley, Austin Police Department, Acevedo, Travis County, American Statesman


'Negligent' ballistics ID, indigent defense overviews, Texas' 'merry-go-round for the criminally insane,' and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends which merit Grits readers attention: Reentry resources Check out these excellent resources on reentry from the Texas State Law Library, including pages on housing, employment, "community resources," and "practice aids." Lots of useful information there. Also, for details on county-level reentry services, see TDCJ's Reentry Resource Guide. Jails and mental health screening Here's an interesting TV news story out of San Antonio about new mental health screening proced...
Tags: Texas, Law, US, San Antonio, Arlington, Star Telegram, Indigent Defense Commission, Gritsforbreakfast, TDCJ, Forensic Science Commission


DNA mixture SNAFU a mess, but don't expect 'deluge' of innocence claims

An otherwise well-done Fort Worth Star-Telegram story on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals races opened with this comment: "The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is about to get hit by a deluge of post-conviction claims that 'junk' science was used to convict the innocent. It could hear as many as 50,000 post-conviction cases involving the improper handling of 'mixed DNA' alone."For the record, Grits thinks that comment dramatically overstates matters. Yes, it's possible there are as many as...
Tags: Texas, CCA, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Gritsforbreakfast, Forensic Science Commission


Reforming use-of-force policies, incarcerating pregnant women because they're poor, and other stories

Let's share a few links with Grits readers, just to clear the browser tabs: Charles Sebesta as Inspector Javert Defrocked prosecutor Charles Sebesta is waging a legal battle to overturn the state bar's decision to disbar him, reported Brandi Grissom at the Dallas News. He was already retired so this legal campaign, which must be costing the guy a small fortune, is all about ego. It's like watching Inspector Javert drown himself in the Seine. State invests $400K in defense support on DNA mixtures...
Tags: Texas, Ted Cruz, Dallas, Black Lives Matter, Tarrant County, Houston Chronicle, Harris County, Cornyn, Brandi Grissom, Star Telegram, Fort Worth Star Telegram, John Cornyn, Sam Walker, Charles Sebesta, Gritsforbreakfast, Institute for Policy Innovation