The Texas Forensic Science Commission Investigates Crime Lab Practices

by Leigh Tomlin

In 2007, the Texas Forensic Science Commission received funding to establish a central office and begin making decisions regarding the investigation of several pending complaints regarding forensic negligence. HB 15 appropriated the Commission's allotted funds to Sam Houston State University, under the Correctional Management Institute of Texas, where the Commission office was set up. Sam Houston State University and the Correctional Management Institute of Texas are pleased to be a part of this groundbreaking project.

Several complaint forms were received by the Commission this year and last year, and the Commission has made decisions to proceed on two independent, residential fire incidents that involved the loss of life and subsequent criminal proceedings, including trials, convictions, and in one case the execution of a man convicted on the basis of forensic methods that have since been proven scientifically invalid. The Commission has also undertaken an investigation involving a case where an individual was convicted and subsequently exonerated through the use of DNA analysis.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission is focused on establishing a foundation for developing its independent oversight of forensic labs in Texas. The Commission has found that Texas is unique in its commitment to ensuring the integrity of forensic labs and that all forensic science elements of the criminal justice system are operating at the highest possible level. For the future, the Commission hopes to strengthen the communications between itself and accredited laboratories in Texas as well as to continue to work with DPS to make sure that proper oversight is a priority in the Forensic Science community in Texas.

For more information on the Texas Forensic Science Commission, please visit the website at www.fsc.state.tx.us or contact the Commission Coordinator, Leigh Tomlin, at 1(888) 296-4232.

Member of The Texas State University System