November 5, 2015
As mentioned in last week’s Interim Update (October 2015), the Texas Forensic Science Commission (TFSC) has drafted a sample notification letter that you can send to a person whose conviction was based at least in part on DNA mixture evidence using the outdated protocols we’ve discussed in previous interim updates. That letter is now available here. The sample letter also includes a form that an inmate can return to the “defense triage team” if the inmate wants the DNA mixture analysis recalculated. That defense team (headed by Bob Wicoff, Appellate Division Chief at the Harris County Public Defender’s Office) will contact the local prosecutor if they get such a request in response to your letter. As envisioned by the TFSC, upon receipt of a legitimate request, the prosecutor will ask for a recalculation and if the results qualify the inmate to seek further relief, a local judge will appoint a local defense attorney to handle any potential writ. The TFSC has created a flow chart of this procedure as they envision it, which is available here. Of course, you don’t have to use this sample notification letter or the defense triage team if you have made other arrangements in your jurisdiction for handling these claims, but they are available if you want them.
Once you decide whether and how to notify defendants, TDCJ recommends the following this three-step procedure for delivering that notification to their inmates or parolees:
1. Prosecutors can email a list of defendants convicted and sentenced to TDCJ in a readable electronic format (preferably Excel) to Karen Hall, Executive Services Research Coordinator, at <karen dot hall at tdcj dot texas dot gov> (or call 936/437-6144 for more information). The list should include the following information:
a) Name of defendant
b) Date of birth of defendant
c) SID of defendant
d) Cause number (If more than one cause number for a particular defendant, please put all the cause numbers under a single entry for that defendant instead of making multiple entries; if more than one count under the same cause number, the count number can also be useful.)
e) County of conviction
2. Using this information, TDCJ will locate the inmates/parolees (unless the person has discharged his sentence, in which case TDCJ will not have an address) and then send the prosecutor the mailing addresses for those individuals, many of which will be TDCJ units.
3. Prosecutors can then mail notices to those inmates/parolees using the address information provided by TDCJ. If a prosecutor intends to send notices to multiple inmates at the same TDCJ unit, bulk delivery of those letters can be arranged by contacting Tracy Dingman, Director of Legal Affairs, at <tracy dot dingman at tdcj dot texas dot gov> or 512/463-9438.
Thank you for your patience as this process has been developed. If you have any questions, please call Rob Kepple at 512/474-2436 or email him.