Here is a link to the Houston Chronicle article. A few weeks ago, I went to trial in Montgomery County on a breath test DWI. Thanks to the awesome investigative work of our expert Ray McMains (formerly with DPS and responsible for this (Read the Dee Wallace story), we hit gold when Merkord was posed this question: “Do you ever follow the rules?” His answer: “No.”
The questions referred to whether or not he followed the DPS Standard Operating Guidelines. Specifically, whether or not Merkord ever performed required quality control checks when removing when removing a machine from its current testing environment. The purpose of these checks is to insure that the machine can detect interferents in the air, like acetone, that could produce a false positive high result on a subject’s breath test. In other words, if the machine didn’t guard against interferents a person’s breath test could appear much higher than what it actually is and the evidence would be unreliable but could still be used against them in court.
Glenn Merkord, the man entrusted by DPS to oversee several breath test machines to insure their reliability and to insure proper scientific procedures are being followed, failed to do his job. He not only failed to do his job, he failed to READ the job requirements. The Standard Operating Guidelines consist of only 8 pages.
The required acetone check procedure is right on the very first page. Glen Merkord said not only does he Never do this acetone check upon removal of a machine but that he didn’t even know he was supposed to be doing it. This testimony shined some unwanted light on Glenn Merkord from DPS. They began investigating him and they found out that he was improperly certifying breath test operators also. The result has been that Glenn Merkord is suspended, they took his keys from him and the breath tests of the wrongly certified breath test operators have been determined to be illegally obtained and the evidence will not be able to be used. The Montgomery County DA’s office is having to dismiss cases because of Merkord’s violations.
My concern is that how can we really know that Merkord wrongfully certified ONLY 2 breath test operators? If he isn’t familiar with the SOGs how can he be the one in charge of making sure the operators are following the required rules. I suspect that this is only the tip of the iceberg and that we will uncover more bad breath tests and more illegally certified breath test operators.
DPS has a person in charge of looking at Technical Supervisors. An auditor for DPS looks to other Technical Supervisors work to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. Follow the rules, insure compliance with the Standard Operating Guidelines, properly maintain and calibrate breath test machines. Where is the auditor in this mess? Either the auditor is doing their job and was aware of Glenn Merkord’s mistakes, violations and illegal certifications and covered it up or the alternative is that the auditor is not doing the job either and is completely unaware of renegades like Glenn Merkord.
I don’t know what is more disturbing.