Articles Posted in Blood Tests

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Do Collin County’s Blood Testing Labs Get Paid Per Conviction?

It’s a valid question.  If the answer were “yes,” would it spark outrage?

A new study shows that State Crime labs, are in fact paid per conviction.  In a new paper written in the  Criminal Justice Ethics journal, they found just that.  What they showed is that State Sponsored crime labs get paid through court-assessed fees.

In Collin County, most DWI blood test cases are tested by a DPS crime lab.  Yes, this is the same DPS that issues your drivers licenses, which immediately gives pause to most intelligent citizens as to the accuracy of who is testing your blood.  It is a state agency, not an independent laboratory.

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I’m pleased to report that I have been selected to speak at this years, "Gideon’s Trumpet" seminar in Wichita Falls.  

My topic this year will be DWI Blood Testing: A Simplified Overview of Gas Chromatography.  Or more appropriately titled, "Gas Chromatography for Dummies Lawyers."

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Next week I’m headed to Gas Chromatography school held at Axion Chromatography Labs in Chicago, IL.  It is an extremely intensive course with less than 70 graduates thus far across the country.

So why am I spending a fortune on this course and wasting a week in Chicago in a freezing cold lab?

I’m still pondering the answer, but it seems like necessary training in this DWI blood test world.  Gas Chromatography is the technique used to test DWI blood for alcohol concentration.  In the past attorneys focused on the “science” (and I use that term lightly) of breath testing machines and standardized field sobriety tests.  Personally I am already a certified Instructor in Field Sobriety Testing — I can teach the course that certifies the police officers.  But when it comes to blood testing, I have no certification. . .  Yet.

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Dallas County Crime Labby Andrea Grimes  Published 8.24.2011  From D Magazine SEPT 2011

 

No matter how easy it looks on prime-time television, putting bad guys in jail isn’t as simple as slipping on a dark pair of sunglasses, coming up with a scathing quip, and having an invariably sexy forensic biologist deliver irrefutable evidence that eliminates all reasonable doubt. Forensic science is a lot

messier than that.

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Well, it looks like Dallas doesn’t like the breathalyzer either.  An article in the DMN today explains that the Dallas PD 

wants to start forcefully taking blood from DWI 

suspects.  I still haven’t understood why the legislature enacts a law like the one listed below, then skirts the issue:

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Today’s lecture on Cross of the Chain of Custody Witness was presented by Houston DWI Lawyer Tyler Flood.

A very good showing.  It was in the Q & A style of a cross examination, so a bit hard to put into a blog the exact questions.  But here are some of the points brought up, that should be explored with the witness:

  • Get the SOP of the police department.  You can find (sometimes) their procedures of how things should be done.  Tyler did this with Houston PD.  It seems like he then tailored his questions to the witness to explore if they were done.  I presume after his cross, he would cross an officer on the correct procedures to bust up the chain of custody
  • Tyler went through exactly step by step where the sample was, who it was handed to and where it was stored
  • Was it refrigerated?  If it was, what about when you pull it out to put it in a cooler?  How long out?  What about when you brought it to the police station?
  • What about other sample’s proximity to your client’s sample?  Do they stuff everyone’s in an envelope, cooler, or lockbox?  Who else’s samples were in there? 
  • Examine all the numbers on who is signing in and out items?  What if they were mailed?  See if a bunch of them were all sent in the same envelope?
  • Is special handling checked off??
  • What about biological hazard stickers?
  • (From the last lecture, does this mean the sample is being inverted more than it should have been?)

Great job overall on this part of the lecture.

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Today presenting on how to cross examine the Blood Drawer (Nurse, qualified technician, etc) was attorney Kelly Case.

A really great job.  So good, I don’t really want to give up the strategy or specific questions on my blog.  If any attorneys are interested in my notes or thoughts, I’ll send them along.  Just shoot me an email and I’ll send it along.

In general, with the Blood Drawer, you can question if intereferrants are present, if there are problems with the blood draw, about the blood draw kit, about the place it was taken, and about the qualifications of the blood drawer.  Really good stuff.

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The pre-trial discover portion of this seminar is being taught by Houston DWI lawyer Troy McKinney.  Troy is responsible for putting on many DWI seminars, and speaks at most of them.  Not to be confused with Collin and Dallas DWI Attorney Troy Burleson (my law partner).

First off, you cannot defend a blood test case without Documents.  You need to know what they have.  You need it to prepare, educate the judge, and confuse the prosecutor. 

PS – as a totally random side note, the Houston’s Crowne Plaza’s cups suck.  They leak.  I got 2 coffees, and both of the cups I used leak out of the bottom.  Also, this is the first time I didn’t pay to get the book along with the CD.  I think that was a good decision.  Especially when you can bring in and plug in a laptop and pull it up.

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One of today’s speakers, Mark Daniel, a Ft. Worth Criminal Defense Attorney, has been getting a lot of recognition for his recent work on Tarrant County District Judge Elizabeth Berry’s case.  Much of the good press was about he finally getting her case dismissed.  Not easy in a case where a blood test was taken. 

He first attacked the search warrant in the case, and got the blood test results kept out of court.  After some appeals by the state, he then won the appeal.  The State’s response after that was to dismiss the case. 

Mark’s talk is about fighting search warrants in DWI cases. . .

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Well, today I am attending the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association‘s Top Gun DWI – A Blood Test trial from Start to Finish.  

In the past I did some live blogging from another DWI Seminar Here, here, and here.  I got a pretty good response from it, so I’m going to give it another shot.

Although the premise of this seminar is an actual trial style : i.e. cross examination of officers, toxicologist, etc, there will also be some normal seminar speaking as well.