When Michael Bromwich released his final report on the HPD Crime Lab, he urged there be a special master appointed to oversee what cases involving potentially tainted serology reports needed to be reviewed. His recommendation was opposed by Mayor White, Chief Hurtt, and DA Rosenthal. Bromwich has now repeated his call, in testimony before the House Urban Affairs Committee.
"The appointment of a special master may not be the exclusive remedy," said former U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich. "However, after extensive discussion with our team of investigators, it was the best solution we could offer."
Bromwich's statement came during hearings by a joint session of the House's urban affairs and general investigating and ethics committees concerning the recommendations Bromwich and his team issued in June at the conclusion of a $5.3 million investigation into widespread problems at the lab.
Hurtt said today the police department is attempting to go through Bromwich's recommendations and see which ones fit.
"We understand the urgency of getting this done," Hurtt said. "We're committed to getting it done.''
Hurtt and Rosenthal again rejected the idea of appointing a special master.
Rosenthal said his office has already contacted the judges in almost 200 cases where problems with evidence analysis may have affected the outcome.
He said those judges will appoint attorneys for defendants who want one, and they will go through the evidence.
Patrick McCann, president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, suggested to the legislators that the city, the district attorney and the council of judges in the region should consult each other and decide on the appointment of a special master.
"Right now, HPD gives its information to the DA. The DA gives its information to the judges and the judges only know the cases they have,'' said McCann. "I think the committee today has discovered that there is no central tracking.''