Sunday, June 13, 2010
Rating Agencies Overrun Houston Crime Lab
"Consultants who re-tested fingerprint analyses in nearly 4,300 criminal cases found no erroneous identifications despite technical errors by Houston Police Department examiners in 62 percent of the cases, HPD officials said Tuesday. ... 'It seems like what we're doing with this contract [to Ron Smith & Associates, RSA] is buying some time while we figure this out,' said Council Member Melissa Noriega, who chairs the [Public Safety and Homeland Security] committee. ... 'The good thing about that audit is there were no erroneous identifications,' [HPD Assistant Chief Timothy] Oettmeir said. 'That means we did not find any instance where a person was put in jail or prison because of a mistake made in a fingerprint.' Troy McKinney, past president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyer's Association, said it was 'almost statistically impossible' for the lab to have such a high rate of technical errors and not have made any false identifications. 'Having 62 percent of cases having problem with methodology of the analysis is an indication there are fundamental flaws in that lab,' McKinney said", James Pinkerton at the Houston Chronicle, 26 May 2010, link:
What did the HPD hire RSA to do? Review HPD's fingerprint analyses practices or cover up false identifications? Finding about 2,650 cases with "technical errors", RSA found no false positives. If "techncial errors" do not produce real errors, should HPD's crime lab redefine the concept of a "technical error"? Did RSA, Moody's or S&P do this "audit"? The HPD must have studied in the Vampire Squid school, i.e., you can almost always find an "expert" to say whatever you want.