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After county action, DNA lab agreement is in Council’s hands

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

In the latest step forward from the collapse of the Austin Police Department DNA forensics lab, the Travis County Commissioners Court approved a two-pronged agreement with the city of Austin on Tuesday. The framework provides for cost-sharing when it comes to hiring a consultant to closely examine exactly what caused the lab to flunk a state audit last year. The results of that audit forced the closure of the lab and called into question thousands of its forensic findings dating back to its opening in 2004. The agreement with the city would also split the tab to hire the Capital Area Private Defender Service to comb through at least 1,400 cases that may have been impacted by improper procedures at the lab. District Attorney Margaret Moore personally appeared before the court to urge them to support the agreement, which she said was borne out of a collaborative effort among stakeholders. “And I think what is before you today is eminently supportable. And it’s the most efficient and the most meaningful way to get to a good result as quickly as we can,” Moore said. The court voted 4-0 to approve the agreement. Commissioner Margaret Gómez was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. City Council is set to put its imprimatur on the agreement at its meeting this Thursday.

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