The ongoing scandal at the crime lab in Austin could affect more than 2,000 cases:
Travis County prosecutors as early as Friday will begin notifying about 2,200 people convicted of crimes — including people in prison for murder and rape — that forensic evidence in their cases might have been flawed because of faulty testing at the Austin police crime lab and that they might be entitled to an appeal.
The first batch of letters will be mailed to 642 people who have addresses that prosecutors and investigators have been able to recently verify, and officials said they are pressing forward to locate the other 1,559 defendants in coming days and to notify them as soon as possible.
The number of notices is significantly lower than officials first feared, when they estimated about 3,600 cases might have had DNA evidence that merited further review. Austin defense attorneys had placed the number closer to 5,000.
Last month, Massachusetts’s highest court cleared the way for more than 20,000 drug cases to be challenged after an analyst in the state crime lab was caught “dry-labbing” results. In the previous year alone, we’ve seen more crime-lab scandals in Ohio; Oregon; New Jersey; San Francisco; Baltimore; Santa Clara County, Calif.; Broward County, Fla.; and Orange County, Calif. I may have overlooked a few.