March 02, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- New York crime lab's improper action could have led to wrongful convictions
Article provided by Bruce Yerman, Attorney at Law
Visit us at http://www.criminal-defense-law-nyc.com
We are all familiar with the TV shows -- CSI and others touting the skills of technicians responsible for evaluating evidence from a crime scene. The laboratory technician conducts tests to confirm the suspicions of the investigators on the case. As is common in so many cases, the image we see on television is a far cry from reality. Unfortunately, the New York Times recently revealed that a lab technician from the NYC medical examiner's office did not follow proper procedures, which could have affected over 800 sexual assault cases.
Lab technicians are responsible for identifying and analyzing evidence gathered in many types of cases -- including both sexual assaults and drug crimes. If the technician does not abide by accepted procedures, it could result in inaccurate results, leading to wrongful convictions.
Botched DNA analysis at New York City medical examiner's office
Thus far, the NYC medical examiner's office has identified 26 cases negatively affected by one lab technician's negligent behavior. They have reported that they will investigate evidence gathered from over 800 rape cases, to determine whether the lab technician's actions were improper.
The NYC medical examiner's office analyzes evidence from approximately 1,500 sexual assault cases every year. The preliminary work -- identifying DNA evidence and isolating it in a test tube for further testing -- is conducted by the 48 lab technicians employed by the office.
Crime labs face challenges in completing work
According to a studyconducted by the State University of New York at Albany, most crime lab technicians have received a bachelor's degree. Nonetheless, crime labs are not subject to oversight by a centralized board nor are lab technicians required to have specific credentials.
In addition, the same survey found that only 21 percent of the crime labs investigated had enough full-time personnel to get through the lab's volume of work. In 2005, crime labs across the country had approximately 359,000 cases backlogged. In total, crime labs were required to analyze 2.7 million cases during that year.
It is not surprising, then, that the case at the New York medical examiner's office is not the first time lab technicians have reportedly mishandled evidence. In another recent incident, a chemist who analyzed evidence in drug cases revealed that she typically did not follow proper procedures. Thus far, over 1,140 convictions involving evidence analyzed by the chemist have been overturned.
When someone is accused of a drug crime or sexual assault, ensuring the evidence is properly handled could be the difference between an innocent person being convicted for a crime he or she did not commit and the identification of the guilty party. If you are facing such a situation, consulting with a skilled, New York criminal defense attorney will ensure a strong defense is established on your behalf.---
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