AUSTIN (KXAN) — In July, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office sent a letter to the Forensic Science Department expressing concerns of “potential significant violations,” primarily centered around material the forensic science department has “previously improperly withheld.”
On Wednesday, KXAN received the Forensic Science Department’s response through an open records request.
The response addressed specific examples in which the DA’s office said the Forensic Science Department did not disclose information about certain concerns in a timely manner.
Some of the items of concern the DA’s office expressed in its original letter include:
- An email from a supervisor detailing lack of confidence in an analyst to perform their job duties
- Criminal conduct allegations by staff members
- Withholding errors discovered by staff members
- Lack of supervision, which resulted in evidence not entering a chain of custody for two years
According to the Forensic Science Department, the agency did disclose information in some of those cases and expressed that in one particular case – an issue between analysts was resolved “prior to release of a report, thereby preventing incorrect results from being released.”
The Forensic Science Department’s letter included the following steps it will take and has taken to address the DA’s office’s concern about timely disclosure:
- Updating disclosure policy
- Implemented practice of providing DA’s office with preliminary notification of allegations of potential negligence or misconduct
- Has provided real-time access to things like proficiency test results, work authorizations and suspensions
- Working on progress to provide summary of all in-progress quality investigations
The Forensic Science Department, in the letter, said it “looks forward to strengthening its partnership with the TCDAO and hopes this resolves the concerns.”