Article from Reason by Jacob Sullum.

Harris County District Judge Kelli Johnson last week declared Steven Mallet, who served 10 months in jail after he was arrested for selling crack cocaine in 2008, “actually innocent.” Earlier this month, Harris County District Judge Ramona Franklin reached the same conclusion regarding Mallet’s brother, Otis, who served two years for his alleged involvement in the same transaction.

Both men were arrested by Gerald Goines, the veteran narcotics officer who spearheaded the January 2019 drug raid that killed a middle-aged couple, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, in their home on Harding Street. Goines invented a heroin purchase by a nonexistent confidential informant to justify that raid, which discovered no evidence of drug dealing.

If the squad handled 14,000 cases in five years, the total number of potentially questionable cases since 2008 is probably something like 30,000, and it’s by no means clear that misconduct by narcotics officers began that year. “The sheer number of the cases that could be involved is daunting,” Ogg said. “Even though it is challenging, our mandate is to always and continually seek justice.”

Ogg’s review is not necessarily limited to cases involving “actually innocent” defendants. “Justice dictates that we continue going through questionable cases and clearing people convicted solely on the word of a police officer we can no longer trust,” she said. “When the only evidence of criminal culpability is the testimony of an untrustworthy officer, we are going to work as fast as possible to right the situation.”