The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Texas must establish an innocence network to ensure crime lab accountability standards are enforced. The multitude of crime lab scandals around the United States demonstrate why the current system of accountability, self-policing, should be reimagined as one more similar to that of a manufacturer and a consumer. Like manufacturers, crime labs are in the best position to ensure the accuracy of any results. Reshaping the system of accountability in this way would ensure that those responsible for handling evidence, handle it with the utmost care and provide accurate results. Innocence Projects generally adhere to one of three different organizational paradigms. The first paradigm, the No Representation Model, typically consists of members who are not attorneys or law students. Because of this, confidentiality rules do not protect any communication between the inmate and the project members. Projects following the second paradigm, the Full Representation Model, typically are formed by law schools and continue to represent an inmate after it is clear the inmate’s claim is without merit. Though the final paradigm, the Limited Representation Model, raises several ethical dilemmas, projects following its structure both enjoy attorney-client privilege, unlike the first paradigm, and represent only the actually innocent, unlike the second. The Limited Representation Model’s focus on the truly innocent not only creates the largest impact as possible, it works to persuade the members of the general public that problems exist within the criminal justice system. An innocence network in Texas structured around the Limited Representation Model would promote crime lab accountability, educate the public, and free innocent people from prison.

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St. Mary's University School of Law



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