A Fort Worth police scientist whose questionable work has caused prosecutors to delay hundreds of criminal cases, including some for murders and sexual assaults, was in trouble for not finishing DNA tests, ignoring emails and listening to music while working in the lab in the months before her suspension in March.
The scientist’s disciplinary history is detailed in documents obtained by NBC 5 Friday under the Texas open records law.
The scientist, Amanda Schaffner, was suspended in March after supervisors questioned whether she falsified work on at least one DNA test.
In May 2018, she received a written disciplinary warning after telling a prosecutor in Florida she couldn't testify in a murder trial because of a "family emergency."
The latest news from around North Texas.
But her supervisor wrote: "Schaffner did not have an emergency family obligation and the statement was untruthful."
On Nov. 29, her boss said she ignored an email about three tests she had not completed.
On Dec. 5, the supervisor wrote: "I forwarded to Amanda the email from Nov. 29 indicating I had not received a response from her. I requested she provide me with an update ASAP."
Again, no response, according to her disciplinary record.
In January, she was put on a "performance review plan."
"The common denominator appears to be a lack of focus and attention to detail on your behalf,” her supervisor wrote.
She was counseled "not to listen to music while working in the laboratory" and to "limit distractions by reducing the time you spend on your mobile telephone and iPad."
In a written response, she admitted, "I have been struggling to meet my goals."
As for ignoring emails, she wrote: "When I am in the screening lab or doing DNA testing, I do not have my work email open because I find it to be a distraction ... Since I do not have my email constantly open, I do not always respond to things immediately."
She added: "I don't feel like I have anyone that I can talk to about not being able to meet my goals or other issues."
Schaffner is suspended with pay.
Prosecutors have postponed hearings and trials in 117 criminal cases in which she was involved.
Schaffner could not be reached for comment.