Today, the First District Court of Appeals (Houston) issued an opinion in another case involving the Fort Bend County dog handler. Much like the last case I posted about, the dog handler was used to match a murder suspect's scent with the scent of certain evidence from the crime scene. This time, however, the scent lineup evidence did not even make it to the trier of fact. After hearing the views of competing experts, the trial judge ruled that the evidence was inadmissible as unreliable. Some of the flaws in the dog handler's methodology that the court noted were:
- He carries around his "blind" non-supect scent samples (called foil samples) in ziplock bags;
- His foil samples are old samples, while the scent sample of the suspect is fresh;
- He does not do negative runs where the sample of the suspect is excluded;
- He uses multiple dogs during each test rather than allowing the dogs to work alone; and
- He is mostly self-taught and his methodology is something he created.
Now the courts have intervened twice to smack down the Fort Bend County dog handler's "scent lineup" evidence. The question is: will they keep using the dogs in Fort Bend or will there be three former police bloodhounds on Craigslist by the end of the week?