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Now a Texas Crime Lab was Busted Falsifying 5,000 Drug Case Results. Prisoners Released. Media Ignores.

DPer dexterszyd recently posted the article, Dude! The crime lab was busted falsifying results in more than 30,000 cases! about a scandal in a Massachusetts crime lab. Reports have been circulating the internet of a similar scandal in Texas that has been brewing for several months with little to no media coverage. Have you heard about this?

The author even speculates that "enough inmates could be released from Texas prisons as a result of this unmitigated mess to allow the state to close an additional prison unit. But if the Court of Criminal Appeals handles all of Salvador's cases like they did Mr. Hobbs', the state might be able to close three or four of them."

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Thousands of drug cases may be overturned because DPS lab worker allegedly faked results

Grits has already expressed amazement that a scandal involving a fired DPS crime lab worker who allegedly fabricated test results - and who performed controlled substances testing in nearly 5,000 drug cases - has received so little press attention, suggesting that the episode may result in the courts overturning hundreds of cases with sentences collectively totaling more than 10,000 years. As it turns out, I may have underestimated the scope of this fiasco.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently began overturning old convictions based on this episode, starting with instances where evidence was destroyed post-conviction, making retesting impossible. The general counsel at the Texas Forensic Science Commission has estimated that evidence was destroyed in 25-50% of cases where Jonathan Salvador performed testing. In several cases, however, including, e.g., one styled Ex Parte Patrick Lynn Hobbs, the high court ruled that, "While there is evidence remaining that is available to retest in this case, that evidence was in the custody of the lab technician in question. This Court believes his actions are not reliable; therefore custody was compromised, resulting in a due process violation. Applicant is therefore entitled to relief." In other words, it may not matter whether evidence is available for retesting or not.

If the court continues to apply that standard then virtually every case in which Mr. Salvador performed testing - some 4,944 cases in all from 36 counties - will be overturned because the evidence was tainted just by being in his custody! Truly, this is a mind boggling development, rivaling a similar episode in Massachusetts which has received much more publicity. The average sentence of defendants among the first 12 writs approved was eight years. If that average holds, nearly 40,000 years worth of drug sentences may eventually be overturned. Can you even imagine? How is it that Grits is the only media outlet covering this?

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Here are a few additional articles from the same site on this topic.

DPS crime lab SNAFU may overturn thousands of years worth of drug sentences

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday approved nine new habeas corpus petitions from defendants convicted of drug crimes after a Department of Public Safety crime lab worker in Houston was found last year to have falsified test results. That brings the total number of defendants with overturned convictions so far to 11, with many more to come. Those 11 people had been sentenced collectively to 90 years, including one 32-year sentence.

Though there may yet be more instances discovered where ex-lab employee Jonathon Salvador allegedly fabricated results, the habeas petitions granted so far have been in cases where the drug evidence had been destroyed post-conviction and so retesting is impossible. The general counsel at the Texas Forensic Science Commission has estimated evidence has been destroyed in 25-50% of the nearly 5,000 cases from 36 different counties that Mr. Salvador worked on during his time at DPS.

All the habeas writs granted so far have come from Galveston County but that's only because District Attorney Jack Roady's office has been especially diligent about identifying cases where no evidence exists and processing them as promptly as possible. But expect hundreds more people released based on successful writs from other Southeast Texas counties. From what Grits knows of the incident, if I were a betting man I'd put the over-under for how many cases will eventually be overturned at around 1,500. Indeed, that's arguably a conservative estimate.

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Conviction overturned based on DPS lab worker misconduct, hundreds more likely to be challenged

Hundreds of drug cases will likely be overturned via habeas corpus writs after it was revealed last year that DPS lab analyst Jonathon Salvador fabricated results while testing a batch of Alprazolam tablets. (See Grits' earlier discussion of the case, "Bad apple at DPS crime lab could spoil barrel of convictions.") In a per curiam opinion, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals today overturned the conviction of Junius Sereal out of Galveston because evidence in the case had been destroyed and therefore cannot be retested. From the opinion:

Applicant contends that his due process rights were violated because a forensic scientist did not follow accepted standards when analyzing evidence and therefore the results of his analyses are unreliable. The State and the trial court agreed that relief was warranted before remand, but the record was insufficient to decide the case at that time. This Court remanded the application to obtain more information. Specifically, the Court needed three additional pieces of information to resolve this case: (1) a copy of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) report Applicant was relying on for his claim; (2) a determination that the lab technician named in that report was the only scientist that worked on this sample; and (3) a finding as to whether the sample was destroyed or could be retested. The trial court has now provided this Court with all the information necessary to resolve this case on the merits. The DPS report shows that the lab technician who was solely responsible for testing the evidence in this case is the scientist found to have committed misconduct, and the evidence in this case has been destroyed and therefore cannot be retested. Applicant is therefore entitled to relief.

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The next article has a lot of information on this topic.

Bad apple at DPS crime lab could spoil barrel of convictions

Potentially hundreds of people convicted of drug crimes in 36 Southeast Texas counties may have their convictions overturned after the discovery last year that a scientist who'd worked on nearly 5,000 cases had falsified results. At a meeting of the Texas Forensic Science Commission (FSC) on Friday, a number of new details emerged about the episode and its aftermath. (Since no MSM reporters were there for that portion of the meeting, this account is a Grits exclusive.)

Throughout the time Jonathon Salvador worked as a controlled substances analyst at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) crime lab in Houston, he was never a particularly competent employee, said Commissioner Sarah Kerrigan who headed the FSC investigation. Salvador was terminated when it was discovered he reported the contents of a batch of pills without testing them, substituting data from another sample. (To its credit, the agency self-reported the incident to the FSC as soon as it was discovered.) Upon retesting his prior three months of casework, DPS found four other cases requiring corrective actions, including one where he'd incorrectly identified a substance as marijuana. Since no one knows how often he may have made errors or falsified evidence, all convictions based on his analyses are potentially in jeopardy.

Though a DPS official told the FSC that Salvador may have left his prior job at the Los Angeles PD crime lab "under questionable circumstances," he was considered a "valuable lab member" by his peers, Prof. Kerrigan told the commission. He was well-liked by his co-workers, was considered "responsive and compliant" by his supervisors, and was the sort of employee who regularly volunteered for unwanted tasks that helped the office function. He performed well in court and his testimony was convincing to jurors. He just wasn't a very good analyst and at some point began to take shortcuts.

Salvador was sacked last year after another employee discovered he'd issued a "fraudulent" report that "misrepresented" what tests he'd performed on a batch of Alprazolam pills. Though he'd worked for the agency since 2005, performing tests in 4,944 criminal cases, Salvador's work suffered from consistently poor documentation, technique, and decisionmaking, said Kerrigan. He struggled with his caseload and at times appeared not to fully understand the science behind the work he was assigned, though he tended to cheerfully and promptly correct mistakes whenever they were identified.

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This letter is from the Texas DPS to the District Attorney's office who use the services of DPS Houston Regional Crime Lab.

ALERT: DPS Houston Regional Crime Lab Issue

Posted: Friday, April 27

Yesterday, DPS sent an email to the prosecutor offices that use the DPS Houston Regional Crime Lab. To ensure all affected prosecutors are aware of this situation, we reprint it verbatim (without attachments) here:

Dear District Attorney:

The Department of Public Safety has discovered errors with the analysis of drug evidence conducted by one forensic scientist in our Houston Regional Laboratory. He has been suspended from casework pending an internal investigation. In reanalyzing evidence in one hundred of his most recent cases, we identified errors in two other cases. Because of this discovery, we believe it prudent to review his entire body of work since he began examining evidence in early 2006 – specifically on any cases pending prosecution or which resulted in a conviction or deferred adjudication. Attached is a list of cases from your jurisdiction. If you wish to have the evidence in any of these cases re-analyzed by another DPS Forensic Scientist, please contact Laboratory Manager Keith Gibson at [redacted]. We will then arrange with the law enforcement agency to obtain the evidence from them and complete the re-analysis. A new lab report would then be issued.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and are taking additional steps to prevent any such occurrence in the future.

Keith A. Gibson
Regional Laboratory Manager
Texas DPS Houston Crime Laboratory

After talking to several affected prosecutors, the general consensus is to follow a protocol that looks something like this:

1. Notify the courts of the issue.
2. Notify the local criminal defense bar.
3. Pull all of the cases on the list provided by DPS – check the disposition for convictions.
4. Find the evidence, if it still exists, and submit for retesting (DPS or your local departments may have it).
5. For any case with a bad retest, or cases with now-destroyed evidence, request that the court appoint an attorney to take the case through a writ process if appropriate.

Questions? Give Rob Kepple a call at 512/474-2436.

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My first thought

How much is it worth for the Private Prison System to bribe, threaten, or otherwise manipulate the 'right' people into these testing spots to churn out false reports?

Thought for today.

someone needs to take a look

at the NJ labs. specifically the counties near the shore. millstone, bay head, etc. these 'don't blink or you'll miss it' towns routinely hound out of towners.

"The two weakest arguments for any issue on the House floor are moral and constitutional"
Ron Paul

I thought this was the other

I thought this was the other thread about the other state when I first saw it. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, it is not. And I see in some of the comments even another area that has this making up evidence.

This is of course on top of the corruption that has existed for 120 years in regards to public prosecutors. Public prosecutors didn't use to exist. In fact, the idea that a crime is against "the state", as opposed to a real victim, is completely against every aspect of our legal system, the constitution, the common law, the rights of the accused, I mean *every* aspect.

Real prosecution is where the real victim, who alleges he has actually been harmed from you, presses his case before the grand jury to get an indictment, and then onward. There are no victim less crimes, no you can't cross examine your accuser - because HE DOESN'T REALLY EXIST, and no crimes against the state.

This fundamental change in our justice system, while we talk about phony politicians every year, is never addressed.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

The prosecutor is the actual victim that wants to press charges

By the way, I've been posting posts on this for years, but I was reading Oliver Twist the other day, and noticed a chapter where the prosecutor was named as being the actual victim - i.e. the old gentleman that Oliver Twist was wrongly thought to have stolen from when the Artful Dodger and his accomplice took Oliver out his first time.

The prosecutor in the book is the actual victim, not some government dictatorship appointed one in a kangaroo court.

In the book, this same gentleman has the charges dropped, and becomes Oliver Twist's benefactor - (if you haven't read the book for awhile).

Oliver Twist was published in 1838. It's in England, but knowing who the actual prosecutor is is common to both our systems. Destroying the idea of who is actually the prosecutor didn't start occurring until about 120 years ago, about the same time that the legal monopoly and having to be a member of the bar started taking effect, something else that needs to go.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Real Prosecutor example - Oliver Twist - Chapter 11

‘Now,’ said Fang, ‘what’s the charge against this boy? What have you got to say, sir?’
‘I was standing at a bookstall—’ Mr. Brownlow began.
‘Hold your tongue, sir,’ said Mr. Fang. ‘Policeman! Where’s the policeman? Here, swear this policeman. Now, policeman, what is this?’
The policeman, with becoming humility, related how he had taken the charge; how he had searched Oliver, and found nothing on his person; and how that was all he knew about it.
‘Are there any witnesses?’ inquired Mr. Fang.
‘None, your worship,’ replied the policeman.
Mr. Fang sat silent for some minutes, and then, turning round to the prosecutor, said in a towering passion.
‘Do you mean to state what your complaint against this boy is, man, or do you not? You have been sworn. Now, if you stand there, refusing to give evidence, I’ll punish you for disrespect to the bench; I will, by—’
By what, or by whom, nobody knows, for the clerk and jailor coughed very loud, just at the right moment; and the former dropped a heavy book upon the floor, thus preventing the word from being heard—accidently, of course.
With many interruptions, and repeated insults, Mr. Brownlow contrived to state his case; observing that, in the surprise of the moment, he had run after the boy because he had saw him running away; and expressing his hope that, if the magistrate should believe him, although not actually the thief, to be connected with the thieves, he would deal as leniently with him as justice would allow.
‘He has been hurt already,’ said the old gentleman in conclusion. ‘And I fear,’ he added, with great energy, looking towards the bar, ‘I really fear that he is ill.’
‘Oh! yes, I dare say!’ said Mr. Fang, with a sneer. ‘Come, none of your tricks here, you young vagabond; they won’t do. What’s your name?’
Oliver tried to reply but his tongue failed him. He was deadly pale; and the whole place seemed turning round and round.
‘What’s your name, you hardened scoundrel?’ demanded Mr. Fang. ‘Officer, what’s his name?’
This was addressed to a bluff old fellow, in a striped waistcoat, who was standing by the bar. He bent over Oliver, and repeated the inquiry; but finding him really incapable of understanding the question; and knowing that his not replying would only infuriate the magistrate the more, and add to the severity of his sentence; he hazarded a guess.
‘He says his name’s Tom White, your worship,’ said the kind-hearted thief-taker.
‘Oh, he won’t speak out, won’t he?’ said Fang. ‘Very well, very well. Where does he live?’
‘Where he can, your worship,’ replied the officer; again pretending to receive Oliver’s answer.
‘Has he any parents?’ inquired Mr. Fang.
‘He says they died in his infancy, your worship,’ replied the officer: hazarding the usual reply.
At this point of the inquiry, Oliver raised his head; and, looking round with imploring eyes, murmured a feeble prayer for a draught of water.
‘Stuff and nonsense!’ said Mr. Fang: ‘don’t try to make a fool of me.’
‘I think he really is ill, your worship,’ remonstrated the officer.
‘I know better,’ said Mr. Fang.
‘Take care of him, officer,’ said the old gentleman, raising his hands instinctively; ‘he’ll fall down.’
‘Stand away, officer,’ cried Fang; ‘let him, if he likes.’
Oliver availed himself of the kind permission, and fell to the floor in a fainting fit. The men in the office looked at each other, but no one dared to stir.
‘I knew he was shamming,’ said Fang, as if this were incontestable proof of the fact. ‘Let him lie there; he’ll soon be tired of that.’
‘How do you propose to deal with the case, sir?’ inquired the clerk in a low voice.
‘Summarily,’ replied Mr. Fang. ‘He stands committed for three months—hard labour of course. Clear the office.’
The door was opened for this purpose, and a couple of men were preparing to carry the insensible boy to his cell; when an elderly man of decent but poor appearance, clad in an old suit of black, rushed hastily into the office, and advanced towards the bench.
‘Stop, stop! don’t take him away! For Heaven’s sake stop a moment!’ cried the new comer, breathless with haste.
Although the presiding Genii in such an office as this, exercise a summary and arbitrary power over the liberties, the good name, the character, almost the lives, of Her Majesty’s subjects, expecially of the poorer class; and although, within such walls, enough fantastic tricks are daily played to make the angels blind with weeping; they are closed to the public, save through the medium of the daily press.[Footnote: Or were virtually, then.] Mr. Fang was consequently not a little indignant to see an unbidden guest enter in such irreverent disorder.
‘What is this? Who is this? Turn this man out. Clear the office!’ cried Mr. Fang.
‘I will speak,’ cried the man; ‘I will not be turned out. I saw it all. I keep the book-stall. I demand to be sworn. I will not be put down. Mr. Fang, you must hear me. You must not refuse, sir.’
The man was right. His manner was determined; and the matter was growing rather too serious to be hushed up.
‘Swear the man,’ growled Mr. Fang, with a very ill grace. ‘Now, man, what have you got to say?’
‘This,’ said the man: ‘I saw three boys: two others and the prisoner here: loitering on the opposite side of the way, when this gentleman was reading. The robbery was committed by another boy. I saw it done; and I saw that this boy was perfectly amazed and stupified by it.’ Having by this time recovered a little breath, the worthy book-stall keeper proceeded to relate, in a more coherent manner the exact circumstances of the robbery.
‘Why didn’t you come here before?’ said Fang, after a pause.
‘I hadn’t a soul to mind the shop,’ replied the man. ‘Everybody who could have helped me, had joined in the pursuit. I could get nobody till five minutes ago; and I’ve run here all the way.’
‘The prosecutor was reading, was he?’ inquired Fang, after another pause.
‘Yes,’ replied the man. ‘The very book he has in his hand.’
‘Oh, that book, eh?’ said Fang. ‘Is it paid for?’
‘No, it is not,’ replied the man, with a smile.
‘Dear me, I forgot all about it!’ exclaimed the absent old gentleman, innocently.
‘A nice person to prefer a charge against a poor boy!’ said Fang, with a comical effort to look humane. ‘I consider, sir, that you have obtained possession of that book, under very suspicious and disreputable circumstances; and you may think yourself very fortunate that the owner of the property declines to prosecute. Let this be a lesson to you, my man, or the law will overtake you yet. The boy is discharged. Clear the office!’

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

99% of Americans don't know

99% of Americans don't know the definition of prosecutor has been changed.

It is an abomination to our legal system, and it is this, more than anything else, that it at the root of the crimes being done in the legal system.

Use every means to re-introduce this idea, including, examples from old popular books, such as this one.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

Being from Dallas myself

This doesn't surprise me. We have a POS DA that let a medicaid fraud case settle for maybe 10% or what the state could have received at trial, and then the DA was just held in contempt because he is too much of a proud dumb ass to plead the 5th. Seriously, Dallas county government sucks donkey ass.

This is going to save the tax

This is going to save the tax paying homeowners all over the country massive amounts of money, not having to pay for so much illegal incarceration of people.

We need to make this a national issue so our property taxes can go down.

It will be diverted

tptb will not 'give' anything back.

Continue to pay your taxes. It will be needed for tanks, ammunition, dhs, etc.

"What if the American people learn the truth" - Ron Paul

The only justice

is if those committing the lab fraud recieve the samee sentence as the victim who with the longest sentence. Or hell, a a cumulative sentence of all the victims' time served. In my opinion this justifies life in prison. How many lives did they destroy?

5,000 errors that sent people away and

not covered in msm. Incredible.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir


Thanks Rob.

Free includes debt-free!

...and every last released, unskilled, bitter FREE man...

...will need housing and a job...

Where will they get that?


Couple this with Libertarian columnist James Bovard's recent expose of the EEOC, acting as a government bully regulating & "guiding" human resource practices in America[ http://on.wsj.com/XMEgqp ] ..and guess what kind of individuals will be suited up and ARMED by DHS?

No better than the losers the TSA hires....


They've been filling the prisons for decades so they can EMPTY them and UNLEASH them on us!

Interesting hypothesis...

I'll look into this more..

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


Results from government run crime labs can't be trusted.

The results are self serving nine times out of ten.

They know what result government agents and purse string holders want and that is the result they are expected to give.

Giving the right result is job security until you get caught as a liar in court.

Then everything you have ever said before a judge is called into question as potential perjury.

Government labs in Texas have been most fruitful at providing false witness and false testimony given the wholly corrupt courts there and despicable judges and attorneys who will eventually become favorite political figures of banks and corporate interests there due to the inequity that they oversee.


I wonder of the prisoner release blamed on the Sequester....

...has anything to do with this. As if they're using the Sequester as political cover of the scandal.

I have no sources to back this up. It's just speculation, but wouldn't that be something.

I think the Sequester releases have been tied to immigration...at least publicly.

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!