AUSTIN – This weekend, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law SB 1287 authored by Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, legislation that requires the Forensic Science Commission to establish a process for licensing forensic analysts and requires forensic analysts to obtain licensing by January 1, 2019.
Currently there is no requirement under Texas law that forensic analysts be licensed or certified to practice or testify in court, despite the fact that forensic analyses and related testimony are often the most significant evidence and the deciding factor in criminal cases where punishment involves the life and liberty of accused defendants.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“I thank Governor Abbott for signing into law this critical legislation that will make Texas a national leader in forensic science by developing a state-focused, narrowly tailored program to ensure forensic analysts are held to the highest standards.
The testimony of forensic analysts in a trial is often the deciding factor in criminal cases, so it is vital that we establish minimum standards for their work. As with so many other critical initiatives, Texas is again poised to lead the nation with this sensible and responsible approach to forensic science reform.The standards developed in Texas will serve as a model for other states.”
Under SB 1287, the administration of the crime laboratory accreditation program is moved from the Department of Public Safety to the Forensic Science Commission. The purpose of the program is to ensure crime laboratories follow certain quality standards and procedures when conducting forensic analyses for criminal cases.
Hinojosa was an original author of the 2005 legislation that created the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which investigates professional negligence or misconduct that affects the integrity of the results of forensic analysis conducted by accredited laboratories.
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa proudly represents the counties of Nueces, Jim Wells, Brooks, and Hidalgo (part). Senator Hinojosa serves as the Senate President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate in the 84th Texas Legislature. Senator Hinojosa currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and serves on the Senate Committees on Natural Resources & Economic Development, Criminal Justice, Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs as well as the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), and the Sunset Advisory Commission.