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Lehmberg warns of oncoming legal drama, budget impacts

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County commissioners were warned on Tuesday to expect imminent legal drama thanks to revelations that a state crime lab was using outdated DNA testing protocols. District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg showed up at the commissioners’ regular meeting to discuss the anticipated fallout that could involve the review of thousands of cases dating back to 1999. The conversation ended up in the commissioners’ lap because they control the county budget, and the fallout will come with a price tag. Lehmberg told the court that convicted criminals doing time or waiting on death row will get a shot at taking their cases back to court, some with county-sponsored indigent defense lawyers. “Some will be represented by their previous attorneys; some attorneys think they don’t have an ongoing responsibility,” Lehmberg explained before revealing another potential cost. “This could have a temporary backup effect on our jury dockets because we have cases that were ready to go to trial, and now they’re not.” County Judge Sarah Eckhardt pledged to keep her eye on the situation. She said, “We should just hold tight and try and get as holistic a picture as we can as quickly as we can, so we can make some reasonable decisions about where we invest and when and how much.”

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