Mayor Annise Parker nets City Council approval of independent crime lab
On a recent 15-2 vote, the Houston City Council approved Mayor Annise Parker's plan to create the Forensic Science Local Government Corp. and confirmed the nine-member board of directors that will oversee the LGC.
"We want an independent crime lab operation that is held to the highest standards of science, run effectively and efficiently and not swayed by politics or the desires of police and prosecutors," said Parker in a news release. "It is just as evil to allow someone who has committed a heinous crime to go free as it is to incorrectly convict someone who is innocent. Today's vote was an important and necessary step in my goal of restoring faith in our forensic activities."
The plan does not preclude future expansion of the LGC to accommodate Harris County's participation, and Parker said talks with the county are ongoing.
Parker's plan goes along with the principles of a 2009 study by the National Academy of Science, and her ideas were noted in a recent article in the National Law Journal.
The role of the LGC Board of Directors will be to set policies for the forensics science center, balance the interests of the public and law enforcement with the rights of the accused and to help ensure integrity of operation and financial management.
The board's first tasks are to schedule an organizational meeting, approve bylaws, learn about open meetings and public information laws, develop goals for the next 60 days and determine a tentative schedule for future meetings and meetings with the current crime lab director and touring of the lab.
The board's chair is District 137 State Rep. Scott Hochberg. The rest of the panel is composed of Rice University Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science professor Enrique V. Barrera, retired U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate Willie E. B. Blackmon, University of St. Thomas communication professor Nicole B. Casarez, Cole Chemical and Distributing founder Donna Fujimoto Cole, Southern District of Texas retired U.S. Marshal Art Contreras, Thurgood Marshall School of Law professor Marcia Johnson, retired senior vice president and general counsel of Shell Oil Catherine Lamboley and University of Houston law professor Sandra Guerra Thompson.
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