Bailey proposes legislation to fix HPD Crime Lab

Representative Kevin Bailey, Chairman and members of the Texas House of Representatives General Investigating Committee, held a meeting to consider Committee action dealing with the problems at the Houston Police Department (HPD) Crime Lab. The hearing took place In Austin on Thursday, March 13.

Chairman Kevin Bailey recommended two legislative bills to the committee. The first bill would require all public DNA crime Jabs in Texas to be fully accredited. It would also prohibit prosecutors from using evidence analyzed by a lab that is not accredited.

The committee had learned from James Bolding, supervisor of the HPD Crime Lab that his superiors did not respond to his repeated concerns. In response to a question from Chairman Bailey regarding deficiencies at the lab, James Bolding responded, “On numerous occasions, starting in l998, I made all of my chain of command aware of the necessity to (be accredited).” He explained that internal audits determined that the lab did not have sufficient funding, staff or wherewithal to do the kind of work expected of them.

A second bill recommended by Bailey would authorize the director of DPS to appoint a qualified person to oversee the review of previous cases involving DNA evidence when questions arise about the quality of work produced by a crime lab in Texas.

The committee also considered asking for an immediate independent review of evidence in past cases that was analyzed by the Houston Police Crime Lab.

According to Bailey “Serious problems exist with the work of the Houston crime lab. We must take action to make sure problems such as these never happen again. Many people have lost confidence in the fairness of the criminal justice system in Harris County and it is imperative that we immediately have an outside independent review of past cases analyzed by this lab”

In previous testimony the committee has heard from forensic scientists with the Texas Department of Public Safety that the procedure and manner in which the Houston Police Department Crime Lab analyzes DNA evidence does not meet with accredited industry standards.