National and state “innocence projects” will examine 45 Houston crime lab cases with questionable evidence, says the Houston Chronicle. The groups cited concerns that some defendants have received no legal representation since the exposure of problems in the lab work that helped convict them. Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal has pledged to cooperate with lawyers who will study 18 cases involving serology tests and 27 involving DNA, all of which independent investigator Michael Bromwich has identified as having “major issues.” Barry Scheck, a founder of the New York-based Innocence Project, and his counterparts in Texas told Rosenthal about their desire to review the cases after the January release of Bromwhich’s report.
“Without action such as this, innocent people fall through the cracks of the system,” Scheck said. “You can’t excuse a failure to follow up and examine whether someone is innocent or guilty when you know the science that contributed to their conviction is faulty.” The lawyers’ first priority will be finding evidence from the cases involving serology – a process of typing body fluids that was a precursor to DNA tests – and to have DNA tests, which are more precise, performed on the evidence. Since unsound practices were uncovered in the lab’s DNA division in 2002, errors also have been found in the work of ballistics, toxicology and drug analysis. Two men have been released from prison after the discovery of errors in the analysis of evidence.