Texas Has a Real Problem with Forensic Testing Accountability
An El Paso Texas Department of Public Safety forensic analyst gets caught faking 22 blood results and the Texas Forensic Commission finds she was negligent. It was not negligence. This is criminal. So, what is wrong with this picture? Let’s break it down…..
What went wrong?
A Texas Department of Public Safety forensic analyst, Ana Lilia Romero, was supposed to retest 22 blood samples but instead, did a cut and paste job of the earlier test results. This is not negligence. Negligence is when you accidentally forget to record the storage room refrigerator temperature because you were in a hurry. Misconduct is reporting results for 22 tests that you did not perform.
Why not count the first lab results?
Well, protocol required that she retest the 22 blood samples because of equipment failure. Equipment failure is a serious issue.
Who would actually go so far as to fake lab results?
The general population would tell you that no one would and if anyone ever did, they should be fired. Well, the pattern exists at the Texas Department of Public Safety. This is not the first time a Texas DPS analyst has been caught faking results or “dry labbing” (reporting results for tests that you did not do). The previous analyst was not fired. Neither was Ms. Romero (she resigned). Another Texas DPS analyst was caught switching results (these things can accidentally happen, the important thing is to get it right and catch it). Questions arose as to this analyst’s truthfulness when questioned about the incident under oath in a court of law. Texas DPS decided to move this analyst to a different part of the state rather than have him continue to do blood tests in the Texas DPS Garland laboratory.
What should happen when misconduct is found in forensic testing?
When this happens in other states, the district attorney notifies all affected people (tests run by the same analyst). Often, due to the malfeasance and lack of trustworthiness in the analyst’s work, a district attorney will choose to throw out the former tests.
What is happening in Texas?
The fact that the Texas Forensic Science Commission chose not to find misconduct, rather negligence, indicates that it is not willing to stop protecting its wrongdoers. The Commission exists to protect the citizens of Texas, not wrongdoers. https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/crime/2019/08/26/texas-forensic-science-commission-backs- finding-professional-negligence-el-paso-blood-alcohol-test/2121471001/
Mimi Coffey is a nationally-renowned trial attorney, board-certified in DWI by the NCDD, who has been practicing for over 24 years and is an author of multiple DWI Defense textbooks and is a national and state-wide lecturer on the law.