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Lawyer: Probation drug tests faulty

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JOEY DAUBEN

The Ellis County Press

WAXAHACHIE – The county’s most expensive criminal defense lawyer is the latest attorney to allege the adult probation office of bringing faulty drug test results to the 40th District Court, where Judge Gene Knize decides whether to send inmates to prison or allow them to serve out their probation terms.

"I can tell you that the probation tests are not always reliable based on personal experience," said Mark Griffith, who reportedly charges $15,000 to take a case and $20,000 to appeal one. "I had a client who was tested in [40th District] court and the probation test showed she failed. "I spoke with my client and was informed there is no way she failed. I then [had] an independent lab to their test within four hours of the probation test. "It was sent to an accredited lab and the tests, all the tests, came back negative.

"The probation tests are inaccurate and it might be noted that my client had to pay for the independent test to prove it was inaccurate."

Probation department officials declined to comment and instead sent requests for documents to the county attorney’s office, who then submitted the requests to the state Attorney General for an open records ruling.

Vance Hinds, lawyer for Scott Lohman, a current Ellis County jail inmate serving time for a string of burglary-related crimes and alleged drug charges, reportedly told his client that if he were to fight Knize’s court on the issue of drug test results, the judge could sentence Lohman to the maximum seven-year sentence for violating probation.

Lohman’s probation was revoked after The Ellis County Press reported his allegations that he submitted samples of his hair to an independent lab for testing, which came back negative.

The county’s lab came back positive, but they refused to acknowledge and accept Lohman’s lab results.

However, when probation officials sought the revocation, they submitted documents showing Lohman tested positive for a urinalysis test.

Hinds and Griffith, as well as a host of other lawyers, also serve the 40th District court as court-appointed lawyers for a so-called "indigent defense wheel."

Critics and clients of the Knize-picked list of legal experts contend attorneys are reluctant to put forth a strong case due to their advocates being paid by taxpayers.

As of the most recent analysis from the county auditor:

Mark Griffith

 

Waxahachie - $72,503.90

Vance Hinds

 

Waxahachie - $36,425

Cindy Ermatinger

 

Midlothian - $55,195

Kent McGuire

 

Waxahachie - $24,600

Todd Phillippi

 

Midlothian - $43,090

Danny Freisner

 

Waxahachie - $42,560

Mary Lou Shipley

Waxahachie - $37,891.44


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Nelson Propane

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