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, had 22 blood samples to retest. Instead, she 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. They would also tell you that if anyone ever did, their employer should fire them. Well, the pattern exists at the Texas Department of Public Safety. This is not the first time Texas DPS caught an analyst faking results or “dry labbing” (reporting results for unperformed tests). The Department did not fire the previous analyst. Neither was Ms. Romero (she resigned). Texas DPS caught another analyst switching results. Though 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 after finding misconduct 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/
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