While many people assume that law enforcement agencies and their employees never make mistakes, that is simply not the truth. There are many instances in which errors are made in the investigation, arrest and evidence analysis process. One recent example of such mistakes were highlighted in a May 23 Houston Chronicle article. The news story was about a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) supervisor who received a 30-day suspension for errors he made in his role of regulating alcohol testing machines and overseeing officers who operated those machines. Defense attorneys have estimated that the supervisor's mistakes could potentially affect more than 1,200 cases of DWI, or the offense of driving while intoxicated.
The article cited a letter from DPS that stated that the supervisor's suspension occurred because he had renewed certifications for machine operators who had not actually fully met the necessary certification requirements. One defense attorney who had helped bring light to the issue was quoted as saying that it was found that the supervisor was not complying with many of DPS's required guidelines, which govern breath testing. He noted that there were quality control checks that the supervisor was not performing. (It was that attorney's cross-examination of the supervisor during a DWI trial that led to the investigation of the technician concerning these problems.)
DPS officials have stated that the suspension could affect four cases. Meanwhile, the attorney who had initially cross-examined the supervisor said the mistakes could impact more than 1,000 cases. These would be cases in Montgomery County, as well as from other counties where the technician was responsible for overseeing machines.
The Houston Chronicle article also highlighted other stories of notable errors that have been made over the past few years. In one example, hundreds of DWI cases became invalid due to a technician who was convicted in 2009 for faking inspections of machines. In another example, a forensic examiner from a DPS crime lab in Houston resigned last year after an investigation concluded that he falsely claimed that he tested a drug sample when, in reality, he used another case's drug test results. In April of this year, the state's Forensic Science Commission criticized the former forensic examiner for years of problems with his analysis. The commission noted that almost 5,000 drug cases remain in question due the substandard analysis.
These stories are just a few examples of the types of problems that can easily lead to wrongful criminal charges and wrongful convictions. If you are charged with DWI or any other types of crimes, it is vital that you obtain strong legal counsel. Are you looking for a Fort Bend criminal defense lawyer? If so, my office, the Law Office of John L. Venza Jr., can help. When I handle criminal cases, I fully examine the alleged evidence that is being used against my clients, and I look for any errors that might have been made by law enforcement or prosecutors. Contact my office today for DWI defense or defense in other areas.