ALERT: DPS Houston Regional Crime Lab Issue

Posted:  Friday, April 27

Yesterday, DPS sent an email to the prosecutor offices that use the DPS Houston Regional Crime Lab.  To ensure all affected prosecutors are aware of this situation, we reprint it verbatim (without attachments) here:

Dear District Attorney:

The Department of Public Safety has discovered errors with the analysis of drug evidence conducted by one forensic scientist in our Houston Regional Laboratory. He has been suspended from casework pending an internal investigation. In reanalyzing evidence in one hundred of his most recent cases, we identified errors in two other cases. Because of this discovery, we believe it prudent to review his entire body of work since he began examining evidence in early 2006 – specifically on any cases pending prosecution or which resulted in a conviction or deferred adjudication. Attached is a list of cases from your jurisdiction. If you wish to have the evidence in any of these cases re-analyzed by another DPS Forensic Scientist, please contact Laboratory Manager Keith Gibson at [redacted]. We will then arrange with the law enforcement agency to obtain the evidence from them and complete the re-analysis. A new lab report would then be issued.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and are taking additional steps to prevent any such occurrence in the future.

Keith A. Gibson
Regional Laboratory Manager
Texas DPS Houston Crime Laboratory

After talking to several affected prosecutors, the general consensus is to follow a protocol that looks something like this:

1. Notify the courts of the issue.
2. Notify the local criminal defense bar.
3. Pull all of the cases on the list provided by DPS – check the disposition for convictions.
4. Find the evidence, if it still exists, and submit for retesting (DPS or your local departments may have it).
5. For any case with a bad retest, or cases with now-destroyed evidence, request that the court appoint an attorney to take the case through a writ process if appropriate.

Questions? Give Rob Kepple a call at 512/474-2436.