The Texas 14th Court of Appeals recently granted relief in a DWI case for a Brady claim based on mistakes by an analyst in the Houston Forensic Science Center in the handling of a blood sample.
At the trial, an analyst testified that she had analyzed the blood sample and found a BAC of .193. The Prosecutor conceded that the blood sample testimony was important to secure the conviction because the arresting officer, according to the Prosecutor, was “probably not a very good officer” and “not good at testifying”. The defendant was convicted by the jury of DWI with a BAC above .15, which is a Class A misdemeanor.
The analyst, however, had at that time been removed from casework having analyzed blood samples in a different case known to have been mislabeled. The analyst was then suspended by her supervisor, who did not inform the District Attorney’s Office of the disciplinary action. The analyst testified without disclosing the suspension.
The petitioner filed a habeas application, and argued that the withholding of Gooden’s discipline was Brady material. The trial court denied the application, stating the evidence did not meet the materiality or favorability prongs of the Brady test. The Texas 14th Court of Appeals, however, reversed. It found that the arresting officer had made several mistakes in his handling of the case and that the analyst’s testimony was necessary in establishing the conviction.
A Houston Chronicle article by Brian Rogers about the Texas 14th Court of Appeal’s decision is available at: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Conviction-reversed-because-Houston-crime-lab-13221897.php.