blood testing

Blood Vial Recall Could Affect Thousands of DWI Cases

By Peek & Toland on September 23, 2019

A company that manufactures blood vials has recalled the vials after finding an error that could change the results of blood alcohol analysis. It is unclear how many cases are affected, as the manufacturer stated that only 300 of the lot of 240,000 vials were manufactured erroneously, and already has recovered 199 of defective vials. However, the vials in question did not contain a preservative to prevent the blood from clotting, which can result in changes to the nature of the blood alcohol over time.

The recall is likely to jeopardize thousands of drunk driving cases across the nation, including at least 7,800 Harris County cases that could have utilized the vials. The Harris County District Attorney’s office has announced that it will begin reviewing thousands of cases for evidence of clotting. If cases used the defective vials, the test results only would be correct if the tests occurred within two days, which seldom happens in Harris County. Court also may be forced to reopen drunk driving cases that already were resolved, further adding to the DWI testing backlog.

Blood Vial Recall Could Affect Thousands of DWI Cases

Local law enforcement agencies also are taking steps to remove vials subject to the recall from deputies, replacing them with non-defective vials. Both the Houston Forensic Science Center and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Science distributed kits containing vials subject to the recall.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys anticipate that many defendants will request a review of their cases to determine if a defective blood vial impacted their cases. As a result, many DWI cases could result in a retrial. The massive amount of cases that could be affected by the blood vial recall will add to the already overcrowded Harris County docket of court cases. If you or a family member is facing any criminal charges, we may be able to help.

As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

Posted in DWI

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Forensic Science Commission Says Allegations of Improper DWI Blood Testing in Austin Are Unfounded

By Peek & Toland on July 20, 2017

DNA testing at the Austin police crime lab that closed down last year has been under scrutiny as evidence of outdated practices emerged. However, Texas Forensic Science Commission officials determined allegations of improper DWI blood testing at the lab are unfounded.

The investigation was important because samples from DWI blood testing provide evidence in thousands of cases.

Austin lab cleared of improper DWI blood testing

Austin lab cleared of improper DWI blood testing

A shortage of trained staff and other concerns at the police lab in Austin led to its closure last year. Despite speculation the lab would open in early 2017, it remained shuttered.

As well as concerns about DNA analysis, the commission investigated claims by Debra Stephens, a former lab employee in December. Stephens claimed Austin lab techs were using a method to calculate results from DWI blood testing that failed to leave a wide enough margin of error. In other words, they were overstating the confidence in their results, The Statesman reported.

Last year, she told The Statesman she discovered the deficiency after she was hired to retest a blood sample in a case that challenged the Austin lab’s results. She said she reached a very different conclusion.

However, Commission officials said the complaint was not accepted for investigation. Commission member Dr. Sarah Kerrigan reviewed it. She concluded Stephens mixed up measurements in her complaint.

Despite the rejection of the complaint, concerns linger about DNA testing at the lab. It remains closed and officials are deciding how to proceed.

Earlier this year officials in Travis County district attorney’s office started the process of informing more than 2,000 defendants who were convicted of crimes that their convictions could be eligible for review.

These cases involved forensic evidence from DNA analysis.

Another report in The Statesman suggests the lab may have bucked DNA standards for years. It still received a pass.

The report cited interviews staff who worked there who said many of the lab’s problems simmered for years before its closure.

Donna Stanley, the former DPS analyst hired to start the lab up more than 10 years ago said:

 “They never supported the things I needed to set up the DNA lab.”

Analysts were reported to have raised issues concerning the lab’s inadequate methods with their supervisors. The reports said they were ignored. Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not trust the lab’s results. They requested reviews of its DNA analyses.

A DNA match is seen as one of the strongest indicators of guilt. But the concerns about the Austin lab have raised question marks about many convictions linked to forensic evidence. If you are concerned about a conviction contact our Austin criminal defense team.

Posted in Criminal Defense, DWI

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