Well that was interesting. A DPS lab worker recently pled the 5th during a DWI trial in Collin County. This DPS lab tech, Chris Youngkin, is well-known in Kaufman and Dallas county. He runs blood lab tests in DWI cases and testifies in court as to the results.
There was a DWI trial in Collin County and the State called Mr. Youngkin to testify about a blood test. The defense lawyer questioned Mr. Youngkin about some prior conflicting testimony and Mr. Youngkin invoked his right to not incriminate himself.
Can a witness for the State plead the 5th?
Sure, you don’t have to be a defendant to invoke your 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. Any witness, for either side, can invoke their 5th Amendment rights. If I had to guess, the only thing I can see that would be incriminating would be if Mr. Youngkin committed perjury, but you don’t have to tell the court what crime you are trying to not incriminate yourself on.
So what about pending cases in which Mr. Youngkin performed a DWI blood test?
Well, we have a right to confront State witnesses under the 6th Amendment. So if a State witness pleads the 5th, he deprives a defendant of this 6th Amendment right. So it should mean the State can’t get a Youngkin blood test in.
Also, pleading the 5th just looks REALLY REALLY BAD for a State witness, it’s also Brady material. So now prosecutors have to disclose this to defense counsel.
So the State has to retest their blood evidence and have a new expert testify, or find a way forward without Youngkin testifying. In the short run, that’s a problem for the State since Mr. Youngkin is in a lot of cases. I’m not sure how this ends well for the State, but this is just the latest scandal out of DPS.
Why do we let DPS, the same agency that makes thousands of DWI arrests a year, test blood in their own cases? They have every reason to game the testing to help the State win.
They have every reason to game the testing to help the State win. They are literally paid by DPS to testify for the State and help them convict. It’s time we had impartial and fair labs for criminal cases. We convict enough innocent people in Texas, we don’t need shoddy and/or rigged lab work.