Tarrant County defense lawyers call for investigation into Medical Examiner

The Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association (TCCDLA) is asking for an independent investigation into the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office in light of autopsy mistakes in dozens of homicide cases and “false, inaccurate, or misleading testimony” in a death penalty case, the organization said in a news release April 27.

Benson Varghese, President of TCCDLA, presented a resolution to the Tarrant County Commissioners Court on Tuesday during its weekly meeting.

The resolution, which has been passed by the Board of TCCDLA, calls for an “independent investigation into the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office and an external audit of the work performed by Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani and Deputy Medical Examiner Marc Krouse.”

It also calls upon the Court to consider whether Peerwani should continue as the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.

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Tarrant County officials declined to comment because of the potential of future litigation.

The resolution lays out the numerous issues that have defense lawyers in Tarrant County concerned including:

– In March 2021, a Tarrant County District Court judge found that Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Peerwani provided false, inaccurate, and misleading testimony in a death penalty case in 2006 in at least 10 matters material to the outcome.

– Peerwani’s Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Marc Krouse, was suspended in 2021 from performing autopsies in homicide cases due to serious professional deficiencies.

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– In November 2020, the body of a citizen of Tarrant County had to be exhumed by court order, as a result of Krouse missing a second bullet.

– Peerwani recently issued a 105-page Audit Report Executive Summary which found that Krouse made at least 59 errors in homicide autopsies over a 10- month period.

During the Commissioner’s Court meeting, Varghese outlined the concerns and provided a binder of materials to the County Judge, Commissioners Court, and District Attorney. The Medical Examiner is appointed by the Tarrant County Commissioners Court and taxpayers pay nearly $11 million annually for its services.

“We are asking for the court to conduct an investigation into Dr. Peerwani’s administration as the Medical Examiner,” said Varghese, who is managing partner of Varghese Summersett. “We are calling for the Court to consider whether or not he should remain the Medical Examiner. A retirement/resignation is not sufficient. An investigation must go on based on the nature of the violations.”

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The Tarrant County Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association is a non-profit association of lawyers who practice criminal defense in Tarrant County.