Houston is accepting proposals from anyone interested in ramrodding the investigation into the evidence-handling scandals that have hounded the Houston Police Department for two years, the Houston Chronicle reports. Instead of conducting a traditional candidate search, the city has posted a request for proposals on its Web site. The job’s official title is “project leader,” but it is, in essence, that of an investigator who will be responsible for getting to the heart of the debacle that has sent ripples throughout the Harris County criminal justice system.
Applicants must submit their salary requests and a battle plan – including an estimated budget – for a comprehensive audit of the lab and property room. The application deadline is Jan. 7. A 12-person team of community leaders known as the Stakeholder Committee then will review the proposals and make a recommendation to the City Council. The lab’s DNA division has been closed since 2002, when an outside audit disclosed widespread problems that included a poorly trained staff and possible contamination of evidence. As a result, retesting was ordered for DNA evidence in almost 400 cases. The new tests have raised questions in dozens of convictions and one man has been freed from prison as result.