January 12, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Some North Carolina Crime Lab Analysts Not Certified
With the rise in popularity of television shows featuring forensic scientists, people are becoming more accustomed to seeing scientific evidence as part of criminal trials. Juries almost seem to expect forensic evidence to be a major component of the state's case against a person facing criminal charges. North Carolina's crime lab may not be producing evidence as reliable as people think it is, however, since many of the analysts have not passed their necessary certification exams, according to state records.
One-Third of Analysts Failed Certification Exam
The director of the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory sent a letter in June 2012 to district attorneys across the state informing them that about one-third of the state's 75 crime lab analysts failed to pass a certification exam required by the state. The analysts have until the end of December 2012 to pass the test. However, the director wanted the district attorneys to be aware of the issue in case people question the validity of the evidence the lab supplies.
The crime lab processes evidence in criminal cases such as murder, rape, robbery, drug crimes and other offenses. The analysts perform tests such DNA analysis, drug chemistry analysis and firearm and tool analysis. Lab analysts also offer expert testimony in trials. The reliability of the evidence analyzed by the lab analysts who failed their exams could be in question.
History of Burying Evidence
The crime lab has also faced scrutiny for other reasons beyond the possibility that the lab analysts are not qualified to work there. An FBI investigation of the North Carolina crime lab also revealed that lab analysts omitted, altered or falsely reported blood evidence in thousands of cases over a 16-year period. Investigators examined over 15,000 case files and discovered 230 cases where the file did not have all of the information the lab had discovered.
One North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent testified at a hearing on the matter that the crime lab used to have a policy of excluding blood test results from reports the lab sent to defense attorneys. The FBI report concluded that the lab withheld information that should have been disclosed in 190 cases that it examined.
Seek Legal Representation
With so much at stake in criminal cases, those on trial need the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney who can raise issues regarding the reliability of forensic evidence the state offers. For example, attorneys may obtain court orders to reveal whether the lab analyst who processed the evidence passed the certification exam and can press to ensure that the lab discloses all possibly exculpatory evidence to the defense.
If you are facing criminal charges, talk to a veteran criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights during the process.
Article provided by Gottholm, Welborn and Benton, PLLC
Visit us at http://www.bentonwelbornlaw.com---
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