GIST: At the federal level, the decision whether to notify defendants in old cases of possible forensic errors resides with prosecutors. Perhaps predictably, among US Attorneys, "The Post found that while many prosecutors made swift and full disclosures, many others did so incompletely, years late or not at all." We see the same types of disparities in Texas state courts. In some instances, as in El Paso, the DA promptly notifies the defense bar when problems are discovered. In others - the Harris County BAT van fiasco comes to mind - prosecutors can be intensely reluctant to open such a can of worms.........This question of how authorities should respond when flawed forensics are discovered will continue to come up, and not just at the federal level. Here in Texas when flawed arson science was uncovered in the Todd Willingham and Ernest Willis cases, the Forensic Science Commission partnered with my employers at the Innocence Project of Texas and the state fire marshal to reexamine old arson cases for possible false convictions. And when the El Paso crime lab was found to be employing an incompetent analyst, DA Jaime Esparza was praised for notifying local defense counsel. OTOH, when Texas appellate courts decided dog-sniff lineups weren't good enough evidence to support a conviction, nobody in officialdom ever tried to identify the 2,000 cases where Deputy Keith Pikett claimed to have performed the technique, much less instances where flawed testimony may have been central to securing a conviction. And the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has generally refused to grant habeas writs based on debunked scientific testimony, even when it was central to securing a conviction. So as a practical matter Texas' response to flawed forensics, while superior in some cases to the feds', has overall been rather hit or miss."
THE ENTIRE STORY AND LINKS TO THE ENTIRE SET OF WASHINGTON POST STORIES CAN BE FOUND AT:
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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:
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