Thousands of Cases In Jeopardy

Are you someone who thinks that every test done by a lab is 100% reliable and must be correct? Think again.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Fred Whitehurst, and serving on the National College for DUI Defense with him, and he has become known as the whistleblower who exposed the FBI Crime Labs many flaws. As a FBI lab chemist, he refused to testify falsely or exaggerate his testimony when they asked him to. He also exposed the many unscientific things the labs were doing from being downright filthy, to not following protocol to ensure the samples weren't contaminated.

Thanks in large part to Fred's exposure, the FBI will now review thousands of pieces of old evidence to make sure their lab results were correct. In many cases, the evidence these labs analyzed was used to convict people. This is the largest review in U.S. history and will be conducted along with the Innocence Project to be sure it is done fairly and accurately.

Recently, many labs across the country have had similar problems or had to fire analysts for misconduct. Earlier this year Denver, Colorado fired one of their analysts and had to retest 1,700 blood samples after it was exposed that their lab results were coming out higher than they should have for the presence of alcohol. These lab results were used to convict potentially innocent people who may not have actually be over the legal limit.

Similar lab scandals have occurred in Houston, Texas where lab analysts made false reports or gave false testimony. One of their tests resulted in the conviction of an innocent man for rape. This has also occurred in North Carolina, where the State Bureau of Investigation and the Crime Lab Director lost their jobs,and in Minnesota where Assistant Director of the Crime Lab who also lead the American Society of Crime Lab Directors was accused of stealing cocaine, just to name a few.

These crime lab crimes are just the tip of the iceberg. Unless labs implement strict oversight procedures and check up on their analysts' work, these bad results which range from innocent mistakes to outright lies, will never be caught. Most of the truth about these labs has only come to light thanks to the hard work of defense attorneys. The bottom line is every lab result must be questioned and supported by data to show the results are accurate and reliable. Unfortunately, the days of receiving a lab report and trusting that it is correct, are over.

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