Aggie Statistician Joins Forensics Lab Advisory Panel

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A Texas A&M statistician has joined a national panel of experts tasked with creating an independent forensics lab in Houston.

Cliff Spiegelman is now part of the nine-member Technical Advisory Group, which "will provide input on best practices in forensic science and lab operations to help move part the [Houston Police Department] lab's troubled history," according to an A&M press release.

The HPD lab was temporarily shut down in 2002 "following an audit that revealed a variety of issues, from unqualified personnel and lax protocols, to shoddy facilities and compromised science," according to the release.

"The end goal is to have a crime lab that's not associated with the police department, so it's not trying to please its employer, but rather focused on doing good science," Spiegelman, a statistics professor, stated in the release.

Spiegelman has "been an ardent advocate of the need for the criminal justice system to better embrace science in the courtroom" and was a staunch opponent of a method of testing called comparative bullet-lead analysis that the FBI discredited in 2007, according to the release.

Spiegelman, who often works with the Innocence Project, said statistics is "an area of science where I have expertise, and there's a shortage of statistical help. And Houston is a community not far from our own. I think I can do some good and help cut down on the number of false convictions and on the number of guilty people walking around free," according to the release.

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