When you ask potential jurors how they feel about defense experts you will usually hear some voices of distrust. They will think that defense experts are “hired guns” and are approached with some degree of skepticism. I’ve found that many jurors are less cynical when it comes to Department of Public Safety (DPS) experts.
Here is how broken our criminal justice system is. The Department of Public Safety is an agency of the State of Texas. The same State of Texas that is bringing a case against the Defendant. DPS has it’s own army of Troopers who arrests drivers for all sorts of offenses, but mostly make believe “crimes” (drugs) and opinion crimes (DWI).
So after a DPS trooper takes your blood in a DWI case, where do they have this evidence analyzed? At their very own DPS lab! Run by their DPS buddies! The lab will “analyze” this evidence and then show up in court to say…. guess what.. the State should win and the defendant is guilty! It’s like having as A-Rod as the homeplate umpire in the next Rangers-Yankees series.
These DPS lab “experts” are part of a conviction team. DPS wants the State to win the case and have been found to cut corners or worse, commit wholesale fraud to make sure that the State gets the convictions they need.
Here’s an example of how DPS will lower their standards in order to help the State win more cases. DPS publishes manuals and regulations on how certain procedures are to be performed. For example, there are guidelines for DWI breath test operators on how to run a proper breath test. The old breath test guidelines had a requirement that a DWI suspect must be observed for 15 minutes before giving a breath test. Why? Because if a suspect burps it will give a false high breath test reading. False readings = junk science = wrongful convictions.
Well guess what happened? In many cases the breath test operator would forget to watch the suspect for 15 minutes and that would invalidate the test. What did DPS do? Did they train the breath tests operators to follow the rules to insure breath test integrity? Hell no. This is the government we are talking about. They changed this rule to make it easier to convict DWI suspects.
Now the rule says you basically just need to be in the same room as the defendant for 15 minutes. So you can hear them burp I guess. Is this “science” designed to insure that have breath test score integrity? Nope. It’s the typical “good enough for government work” approach that DPS takes.
That is the pattern with DPS, especially in DWI cases. Whenever there is a choice between scientific integrity and making it easier to convict, DPS often chooses the latter. They constantly rewrite their manuals and policies whenever it becomes too inconvenient to do things the right way.
So be cynical of defense experts, that’s fine, but be at least as cynical and distrusting of government experts.