|(a) Code of Professional Responsibility for Forensic
Analysts, Forensic Technicians, and Crime Laboratory Management Subject
to the Jurisdiction of the Texas Forensic Science Commission. The
Code of Professional Responsibility ("Code") for forensic analysts,
forensic technicians, and crime laboratory management defines a framework
for promoting integrity and respect for the scientific process and
encouraging transparency in forensic analysis. Forensic analysts,
forensic technicians, and crime laboratory management subject to the
Commission's jurisdiction are expected to abide by this Code in all
forensic science-related professional activities regardless of the
geographic location where the activities are performed. Because certain
components of the Code are best suited to individual forensic analysts
or technicians while others are best suited to crime laboratory management,
the Code is divided into two sections.
(b) Each forensic analyst shall:
(1) Accurately represent his/her education, training,
experience, and areas of expertise.
(2) Commit to continuous learning in the forensic disciplines
and stay abreast of new findings, equipment and techniques to maintain
(3) Promote validation and incorporation of new technologies,
guarding against the use of non-valid methods in casework and the
misapplication of validated methods.
(4) Avoid tampering, adulteration, loss, or unnecessary
consumption of evidentiary materials.
(5) Avoid participation in any case where there are
personal, financial, employment-related or other conflicts of interest.
(6) Conduct thorough, fair and unbiased examinations,
leading to independent, impartial, and objective opinions and conclusions.
(7) Make and retain full, contemporaneous, clear and
accurate written records of all examinations and tests conducted and
conclusions drawn, in sufficient detail to allow meaningful review
and assessment by an independent person competent in the field.
(8) Base conclusions on procedures supported by sufficient
data, standards and controls, not on political pressure or other outside
(9) Not offer opinions or conclusions that are outside
(10) Prepare reports in clear terms, distinguishing
data from interpretations and opinions, and disclosing any relevant
limitations to guard against making invalid inferences or misleading
the judge or jury.
(11) Not issue reports or other records, or withhold
information from reports for strategic or tactical litigation advantage.
(12) Present accurate and complete data in reports,
oral and written presentations and testimony based on good scientific
practices and valid methods.
(13) Testify in a manner which is clear, straightforward
and objective, and avoid phrasing testimony in an ambiguous, biased
or misleading manner.
(14) Retain any record, item or object related to a
case, such as work notes, data, and peer or technical review information
due to potential evidentiary value and pursuant to the laboratory's
(15) Communicate honestly and fully with all parties
(investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other expert witnesses),
unless prohibited by law.
(16) Document and notify management or quality assurance
personnel of adverse events, such as an unintended mistake or a breach
of ethical, legal, scientific standards, or questionable conduct.
(17) Ensure reporting, through proper management channels,
to all impacted scientific and legal parties of any adverse event
that affects a previously issued report or testimony.
(c) Members of crime laboratory management shall:
(1) Encourage a quality-focused culture that embraces
transparency, accountability and continuing education while resisting
individual blame or scapegoating.
(2) Provide opportunities for forensic analysts to
stay abreast of new scientific findings, technology and techniques
while guarding against the use of non-valid methods in casework, the
misapplication of validated methods or improper testimony regarding
a particular analytical method or result.
(3) Maintain case retention and management policies
and systems based on the presumption that there is potential evidentiary
value for any information related to a case, including work notes,
analytical and validation data, and peer or technical review.
(4) Provide clear communication and reporting systems
through which forensic analysts may report to management non-conformities
in the quality system and other adverse events, such as an unintended
mistake or a breach of ethical, legal, scientific standards, or questionable
(5) Make timely and full disclosure to the Texas Forensic
Science Commission of any non-conformance that may rise to the level
of professional negligence or professional misconduct.
(6) Provide copies of all substantive communications
with the laboratory's national accrediting body to the Commission.
(7) For any laboratory that performs forensic analysis
on behalf of the State of Texas, develop and follow a written forensic
disclosure compliance policy for the purpose of ensuring the laboratory's
compliance with article 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
(8) Ensure the laboratory's forensic disclosure policy
provides clear instructions for identifying and disclosing any exculpatory,
impeachment, or mitigating document, item, or information in the possession,
custody, or control of the laboratory. The policy should explicitly
address how to inform potentially affected recipients of any non-conformances
or breaches of law or ethical standards that may adversely affect
either a current case or a previously issued report or testimony.
(9) Inform all forensic analysts working on behalf
of the laboratory that they may report allegations of professional
negligence or professional misconduct to the Texas Forensic Science
Commission without fear of adverse employment consequences.