November 02, 2007
Crime lab cases being reviewed

Some progress on the HPD Crime Lab case review front.

Since Oct. 22, Judge Mary Bacon, a retired state district judge overseeing the review of 180 convictions with flawed blood-typing evidence, has conducted hearings with all inmates currently incarcerated in those cases. Of 160 inmates contacted at various Texas prisons via video conferences, all but four agreed to have their cases reviewed.

The hearings are the first step in a plan that Harris County's 22 criminal state district judges developed last month to review cases with problematic blood-typing evidence from the Houston Police Department's crime lab.

A team will review the 156 cases to determine how essential HPD's analyses were to securing the convictions, according to attorney Bob Wicoff. Wicoff will be joined by two other lawyers, who should be named next week, and volunteers including other lawyers, students and academics.

"I am trying to marshal all the help I can get for this undertaking," said Wicoff, who represented Josiah Sutton, the first man exonerated in the HPD crime lab scandal.

The team will contact defendants they have not yet reached.

Lawyers are expected to report to Bacon in early December on who has been assigned to what case and what progress has been made.

I look forward to hearing that report. I've said before that I have hopes for this review panel (which still needs a couple more staffers). We'll see how far they get in the coming month. I don't want to set the bar too high, but I do expect that they will move some of these cases, which have languished for years now, closer to a resolution. I wish them well.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 02, 2007 to Crime and Punishment