A spate of recent news reports has called into question the objectivity of some forensic evidence and highlighted the need for effective oversight mechanisms for the nation’s crime labs. Fingerprint analysts told The Missouri Lawyer that when police officers have access to the labs, they often pressure the fingerprint examiners to secure arrests. In December, the New York State Inspector General released a report revealing that forensic analyst Gary Veeder falsified hundreds of results over a fifteen year period. The Phoenix, Arizona Police Department announced plans to investigate claims that lab technicians in the crime lab undermine the integrity of criminal investigations by leaving evidence behind at scenes and disposing of fingerprint evidence. In December, Donald Gates walked free from prison after his exoneration for a rape and murder he did not commit when it was revealed that FBI lab technician Michael Malone provided false testimony and inaccurate testing results.
Follow up story from MSNBC
Another example of shoddy and perhaps illegal work from a lab in Texas
One of the recommendations to improve the integrity of crime labs is to remove them police agencies and prosecutors. Checking the web page for the Idaho State Police reveals that the lab is under the command of a member of the state police. The lab has been certified since 1987.
I hope that the legislature will examine all the recommendations made by the Justice Project. Too much is at stake and the evidence elsewhere is too damning not to ensure that the state crime labs in Idaho remain problem free.