Crime lab accreditors getting a black eye and lose credibility over Austin lab

Image result for bad science

Nothing like using empirical data to establish CJ problems that are largely ignored by governmental practitioners. A few folks have been been saying this about ANSI/ASCLD for years. Here’s a scandal-in-point. Crime labs.

From the NYC Legal Aid DNA Newsletter @CeliaGivens

The Austin police crime lab ceased all efforts to reopen DNA and serology testing in December 2016 after an audit conducted by the Texas Forensic Science Commission in June revealed the lab’s use of, “unapproved DNA testing procedures, inaccurate quality assurance methods, unqualified lab technicians and management, and clear signs of contaminated evidence.”

In addition to passing the ASCLD inspection in 2015, the Major Cities Chiefs Association visited the lab and issued a report in February 2016 stating, “it was readily apparent that the [Austin police crime] laboratory and its staff upheld the high standards of accreditation.” Three months later the Texas Forensic Science Commission discovered the lab’s errors.

The fact that the lab was approved twice by at least two independent oversight agencies just months before the errors were found has led many to question the legitimacy of these accrediting agencies. While Texas law requires labs to be accredited by ASCLD if their findings will be used in court, experts note that lab accreditation tests are announced well in advance and “[do not] test the quality of a lab’s work –– only that it has protocols and that they are followed.” Former Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo added that, “he had depended on the outside reviews to identify and correct concerns he’d received about the facility. That the reviews came back clean…leaves him skeptical of the oversight.”

 

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Crime lab accreditors getting a black eye and lose credibility over Austin lab

  1. John Lentini says:

    There is no valid legitimate accrediting of forensic science laboratories in the United States today.

    Say what you do and do what you say and you can be accredited, even if you are practicing Voodoo. ASCLD-LAB only cares if the laboratory is following written procedures. They do not care whether those procedures are valid or generally accepted by the relevant scientific community. A case in point is the Florida Bureau of Forensic Fire and Explosives Analysis. Based on a complaint that I filed, ASCLD-LAB sent in two very talented and respected fire debris analysts who agreed that the laboratory finding of gasoline in two cases that I pointed out was not supported by the data. Further, they wrote that the laboratory was using an unwritten protocol that was not generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. The lab’s accreditation for fire debris analysis was suspended in March 2016.

    The lab appealed the suspension and the appeal was denied. So what did the lab do? They wrote down their invalid procedure. That satisfied the people at ASCLD-LAB, even though the laboratory refused to institute corrective actions on the two cases where the reviewers found that the laboratory was wrong. Their position is that it is just a difference of opinion, and I and the reviewers were being “too conservative.” ASCLD-LAB let that position stand.

  2. csidds says:

    Thanks John. This parallels the smaller world of bitemark certifiers. My claims to the ABFO regarding unreliable “bitemark protocols” got swallowed up by the same “its just an opinion” psycho-babble. What nailed it for me was the MS “Country Dentist’s” expanding list of victims, a couple erroneous bitemark aided executions in TX and ridiculous claims of their “science”. No consequences exist in courts for any of this outside what the TX Forensic Comm came up with last year.

  3. csidds says:

    Reblogged this on FORENSICS and LAW in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends and commented:

    John Lentini comments the blog. There is no valid legitimate accrediting of forensic science laboratories in the United States today.

    Say what you do and do what you say and you can be accredited, even if you are practicing Voodoo. ASCLD-LAB only cares if the laboratory is following written procedures. They do not care whether those procedures are valid or generally accepted by the relevant scientific community. A case in point is the Florida Bureau of Forensic Fire and Explosives Analysis. Based on a complaint that I filed, ASCLD-LAB sent in two very talented and respected fire debris analysts who agreed that the laboratory finding of gasoline in two cases that I pointed out was not supported by the data. Further, they wrote that the laboratory was using an unwritten protocol that was not generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. The lab’s accreditation for fire debris analysis was suspended in March 2016.

    The lab appealed the suspension and the appeal was denied. So what did the lab do? They wrote down their invalid procedure. That satisfied the people at ASCLD-LAB, even though the laboratory refused to institute corrective actions on the two cases where the reviewers found that the laboratory was wrong. Their position is that it is just a difference of opinion, and I and the reviewers were being “too conservative.” ASCLD-LAB let that position stand.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s