Houston Police Department Crime Laboratory
The review of the laboratory began after a contemptuous state audit of its work led to a suspension of genetic testing in January 2003. The audit found that technicians had misinterpreted data, were poorly trained, and kept substandard records. In most cases, the technicians used up all available evidence preventing defense experts from refuting or verifying the results. A lack of documentation, failure to follow procedures, and not running scientific controls were part of the problems. The laboratory’s building was in poor shape, with a leaky roof that contaminated evidence. The problems in Houston were much greater than other crime laboratories in the United States because more defendants have been executed than from any other area in the country. Police laboratory tailored tests to theories, report says by Roma Khanna, May 12, 2006, Houston Chronicle.
Sandra Anderson was a dog trainer and cadaver dog handler who assisted in many high-profile cases where human remains detection was needed. Investigators often called on Anderson and her dog Eagle as a cost-effective tool for investigations. At one scene, an investigator believed he had seen her remove something from her boot. Investigators then watched Anderson a little more closely, and after she discovered a piece of evidence in a cleared area, she was arrested on suspicion of planting evidence. In 2003, Anderson was charged with obstruction of justice, lying to law enforcement officers, and concealing material facts. As with most cases of misconduct in forensic science, those who had worked with Anderson in the past now had a shadow of a doubt over their investigations. Were innocent people convicted due to her wrongdoing? How many cases were impacted? What is the full scope of her misconduct? (http://truthinjustice.org/sandra-anderson.htm; http:// archive.archaeology.org/online/features/dogs/).
Making a Murderer
In 2015, Netflix introduced the world to Steven Avery in their documentary “Making a Murderer.” Avery was exonerated with DNA evidence in 2003 after serving 18 years for murder and sexual assault. The case highlights issues such as prosecutorial misconduct, evidence tampering, improper interrogation, and conflicts of interest. This example highlights issues in various professional cultures and summarizes what can happen to cause misconduct (www.netflix.com).