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In the New York Post, Roger Koppl asks whether DNA testing can really be fair if crime labs aren't independent.

NEXT: Defense Needs DNA, Too

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  1. Roger,

    You might want to look at the case in Oklahoma where forensic scientist Joyce Gilcrest was found to be faking results all with the blessing of hang them high DA Bob Macy. As aside, Bob Macy must rank as one of the most dispicable DAs in the last half century. The only difference between him and Mike Nifong is Macy was never dumb enough to try to fram a couple of elite college athletes.

    In the day and age of Law and Order and CSI, jurors look at a guy in a lab coat and second only to the word of God. If forensic labs are not completely reliable only bad things can happen.

  2. I look no further than Houston’s crime lab problems to prove his point. (Lots more details available on the Web for that one)

    Other mischief in the Harris County crime lab. And a link for forensic bad apples in general.

  3. Continuing a previous grammmar-nazi thread…

    Dispicable (die-spik-uh-bull), adj: Capable of, or inclined to, utter multiple racial, ethnic, or other slurs.

    From “di-” (two) and “spic” (offensive epithet for hispanics).

  4. Yeah yeah yeah. “I” “E” close enough.

  5. The case of Martin Lee Anderson touches on that subject. The Bay County Medical Examiner ruled out foul play. This could have possibly been a mistake on his part. However, given the fact that this kid was severely beaten at the time of his death, it reeks of a cover up.

  6. But jb,
    Despicable (dee-spik-uh-bull), adj: The ability to commit the forcible removal of one or more Hispanic residents.

    From “de-” (remove) and “spic”(offensive epithet for hispanics).

  7. The big problem is that prosecutors can argue that just because the DNA found in the alleged rape victim doesn’t match the alleged rapist doesn’t mean he didn’t do it (maybe he wore a condom or didn’t ejaculate) and therefore the evidence is not exculpatory (and thus doesn’t have to be provided to the defense under Brady). It should be absolutely exculpatory.

  8. Kwix: Yes, there are alternate etymologies for correctly-spelled words. But I avoid those in favor of more efficiently mocking those who make common misspellings.

    The english language may indeed suffer from hypocracy (insufficient governance) relative to, say, French, but I can still be a vigilante.

  9. Good article, but it wasn’t just the DA who gamed the system.

    These “officers of the court” would presumably be directed by the court’s judge. In this case, the judge who ordered the DNA test was one Ronald Stephens (23 March). According to KCJ, Stephens in 22 June denied the following defense requests with no explanation:

    * that Nifong include a memorandum of the conversation [between Nifong and DNA director Brian Meehan] in the discovery file
    * that Nifong file a memorandum of the conversation for Stephens to review in camera
    * that Nifong file a memorandum of the conversation under seal, for use in any possible appeal

    In other words, the judge (I’m done capitalising that word for Stephens’s sake) decided that he just doesn’t feel like giving one side the information available to the other.

    For this bill to work, it has to have a proviso taking away the judge’s power to determine which of this “neutral” information will be available to one party and which to th’other.

    It may seem a nitpick, but this was a prosecution which exploited every excuse NC law offered it.

  10. In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.

  11. Prosecutors have too much power. The accused have too little. Which politician will be the first to suggest upsetting this imbalance?

    So far, it’s only happened where counties and states were going broke trying to pay for their injustice. Getting the bad guys is far too important to the voters for the prosecutors to worry about such silly matters as fairness, the law, common sense, attorney-client privilige (yeah you, Total Information Awareness County, a.k.a. Maricopa County,) and the Bill of Rights.

    Luckily, three white rich kids were accused by a poor black woman of a sex crime that didn’t happen. Otherwise, no one would care about such issues.

  12. If you’re ever on a jury and someone claims that DNA or other forensic evidence indicates some result with a chance of, say, a billion to one, keep in mind that they’re lying. The rates of human error and malfeasance will always be far higher than that.

    “Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

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