In a move that could lead to a wider examination of the Houston’s Harris County criminal justice system, a judge yesterday called for a rare court of inquiry to investigate perjury allegations against the former head of the Houston Police Department’s DNA laboratory, says the Houston Chronicle. State District Judge Jan Krocker said there is probable cause to believe that former lab chief James Bolding committed aggravated perjury during the June 2002 trial of Keith Grimes, who was convicted of sexual assault.
Bolding allegedly lied when he testified that he had a doctorate in biochemistry. He has said the discrepancy resulted from a transcription error by the court reporter. Bolding retired in June 2003 after then-Police Chief C.O. Bradford recommended he be fired. A judge could appoint a special prosecutor to help with the investigation if it is determined that the district attorney’s office has a conflict of interest. The lab was shut down in December 2002 after an independent audit revealed shoddy scientific methods and substandard working conditions. The district attorney’s office is reviewing evidence processed by the lab in almost 400 cases, and problems have been found in about 20 percent of the retests. One man was freed from prison after retests showed he could not have committed the rape for which he served 4 1/2 years.