Even before the television show “CSI” became popular, juries and judges have tended to believe what “scientific experts” say in criminal cases. While scientific evidence can be a tremendously beneficial crime-solving tool, the use of inaccurate and fraudulent junk science has plagued the Texas criminal justice system for years.
Specifically, junk science in Texas has taken the form of false autopsies, inaccurate evaluations of hair and fiber evidence, dog scent lineups, and the use of now disproven arson investigation techniques. The Houston Crime Lab scandal is stark proof of how “grossly misleading” reports in the areas of serology and DNA testing have also been used time and time again to win convictions in Texas.
In response to the wrongful convictions that have resulted from the use of junk science in courtrooms, the Innocence Project of Texas recently launched a campaign against this practice. As part of our junk science campaign, we hope to exonerate men and women who were convicted via the use of inaccurate and fraudulent scientific evidence, to educate the public on the nature of the junk science problem, and to point the way forward for reform.
The Innocence Project of Texas, in conjunction with the Texas Forensic Science Commission and the State Fire Marshall's office, has recently begun a Statewide Arson Review. Click below to learn more about this ongoing effort to review Texas arson cases for outdated or incorrect fire investigation techniques.
Success! Legislative Reform on Junk Science!!!
The Innocence Project of Texas is pleased to report that a bill we have long supported and worked on passing finally made its way through the Texas Legislature successfully this last session. Commonly known as "writ reform," SB 344 clarifies standards for courts to grant habeas corpus relief in junk science cases. This is the first bill of its kind in the nation and will ensure that those wrongfully convicted in Texas based on junk science will have an opportunity to get their cases back into court. Science is ever advancing and this bill allows for someone to have their cases reheard when the forensic science behind their conviction has been found to be flawed, incorrect, or outdated. Follow the links below for more information concerning SB 344 and its impact.
Bills would bolster Great Writ for the 21st century, expose prosecutor misconduct
Bill to allow habeas relief on junk science cases passes Texas Senate
Bill Addresses Changing Science in Criminal Appeals
Governor signs junk-science habeas bill
Habeas reform at the Texas Legislature: The backstory
Neal Robbins writ headed back to CCA after Lege ostensibly passed fix
For more information on the junk science problem, please visit the reports below.
Innocence Project of Texas Report
National Research Council Report