Greg Taylor missed his daughter’s 10th birthday. He was in prison. He also missed her high school and college graduations and her wedding day. Prison. To get prosecutions, the North Carolina crime lab misrepresented evidence in Taylor’s case . . . and hundreds of others.
In 1991, Taylor was convicted of killing a prostitute. He discovered the dead body, but did not report it. He was convicted due in part to an initial crime lab determination that the victim’s blood was on his truck (other evidence included self-contradictory, unreliable witness testimony). The crime lab later knew from more-thorough testing — but did not report –that the “blood” it had reported on Taylor’s truck was not blood at all. (Los Angeles: Times North Carolina man exonerated after 17 years). The crime lab, more interested in prosecutions than finding the criminal, sat on evidence that would have exonerated Mr. Taylor.
This is not an isolated case, in North Carolina or elsewhere.
That particular North Carolina lab “once had a policy of excluding complete blood test results from reports sent to defense attorneys” (ABC News: North Carolina Crime Lab Buried Blood Evidence). An FBI report found 230 cases in which that crime lab misrepresented blood evidence so as to favor the prosecution.
In March, US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass) ordered defense and prosecution attorneys to interrogate forensic evidence, including finger prints, DNA, and blood identification. Too often attorneys on both sides assume that both the methodologies and the specific testing are reliable because they are “scientific.” They are not, and Judge Gertner had seen enough casual deference to lab results to insist that attorneys in front of her actually challenge the science, the application of the science, and the representations made about it.
Crime lab scandals have also come to light in Florida (crime lab technician John Fitzpatrick switched DNA samples and changed data); Oklahoma (police technician Joyce Gilchrist’s shoddy work routinely put innocent people in prison for a decade or more); Wisconsin (technician Sherry Culhane and others were disciplined for falsifying lab results); as well as Illinois, California, New York, and Texas.
How Does This Affect You:
Minnesota cops, crime labs, and prosecutors are just as liable to err – or mislead – as those in other states. Your attorney needs to know the latest on labs, tests, and procedure to adequately represent you.
Chuck Ramsey has successfully argued that Minnesota’s urinalysis tests are both scientifically inaccurate (based on flawed science) and improperly performed (DWI Urine Sample Re-test: Judge Tosses Government’s Alcohol Results). Lee Orwig and others have challenged the very use of breathalyzers used throughout the State of Minnesota causing, after years of indefatigable pressure from Orwig and others, Minnesota judges to no longer routinely accept that the machines perform correctly (Minnesota Source Code Coalition). Now, if you have a DWI charge in Minnesota, the judge will not simply record the breathalyzer’s output as scientifically valid. A final word on whether the computers that run the machines are reliable is expected early next year.
Hire the Right Attorney:
Your criminal defense attorney should be a member of the Minnesota Source Code Coalition (check for the attorney’s name on the link above). And if there is any lab evidence in a criminal case involving you, make sure the attorney representing your interests is willing and able to challenge the validity of the test, who performed the test, how the results are applied, and what they really mean.
For more information about how an experienced criminal defense attorney can help, or to see up a free initial consultation, contact the Barry S. Edwards Law Office.
Next: False Confessions