Texas Forensic Science Commission Forensic Analyst Licensing Program
During the 84th Legislative Session, the Texas Legislature passed SB-1287, which requires all forensic analysts to be licensed beginning January 1, 2019. See Tex. S.B. 1287, 84th Leg., R.S. (2015). The term “forensic analyst” means any person who on behalf of a crime laboratory accredited under this article technically reviews or performs a forensic analysis or draws conclusions from or interprets a forensic analysis for a court or crime laboratory. The term does not include medical examiners or other forensic pathologists who are licensed physicians.
The Commission must establish qualifications for licensing in the following areas:
(a) successful completion of education requirements;
(b) specific coursework and experience, including instruction in courtroom testimony and ethics;
(c) successful completion of an examination required or recognized by the commission; and
(d) successful completion of proficiency testing to the extent required for crime lab accreditation.
In addition to mandatory licensing for forensic analysts in accredited disciplines, the Commission may also establish voluntary licensing programs for forensic disciplines not currently subject to accreditation under Texas law.
SB-1287 also requires the Commission to establish an advisory committee to advise the Commission and make recommendations on matters related to the licensing program. The advisory committee will consist of nine members from a diverse group of laboratories, including seven forensic scientists recommended by the Texas Association of Crime Lab Directors (“TACLD”), as well as one defense attorney recommended by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and one prosecutor recommended by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. The TACLD will submit a list of twenty scientist’s names to the Commission. From that list, Commissioners will select nine scientists to serve on the licensing panel. For information regarding TACLD’s Nominee Selection Process, click here.
At its August 14, 2015 meeting, Commissioners elected a panel to help facilitate the selection process for the licensing advisory committee. Committee members include, Dr. Ashraf Mozayani (Chair), Dr. Arthur Eisenberg, and Dr. Nizam Peerwani. The Commission selected the following nine licensing advisory committee members at a meeting on December 2, 2015:
1. Michael S. Ward, Fort Worth Police Department Crime Laboratory
2. Robert A. Middleberg, National Medical Services
3. Greg Hilbig, Department of Public Safety – Tyler Crime Laboratory
4. Timothy Sliter, Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science
5. D. Chris Heartsill, Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office
6. Robert Sailors, Bexar County Forensic Science Center Criminal Investigation Laboratory
7. James T. Miller, Houston Forensic Science Center
8. Inger Chandler, Harris County District Attorney's Office
9. Mark Daniel, Evans, Daniel, Moore, Evans, & Biggs
The Licensing Advisory Panel will have its first meeting in Austin on February 11, 2016, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
For further details on the licensing requirement, please see SB-1287.