Brickbat: I Love Science


iT@c / photo on flickr

Officials in New Jersey say 7,827 criminal cases are now in question after a lab technician with the State Police was caught faking the result in a drug case. The technician, Kamalkant Shah, was suspended but never charged with any crime and has reportedly retired.

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  1. I hope all 7827 file appeals and clog up the courts there. Seems these ‘labs’ are full of junk science ,their purpose is to get convictions by hook or crook.Including the F.B.I as seen with the hair and bullet matching frauds.

    1. Don’t forget the coupe de grass: bite marks

    2. I hope the guy responsible is fed into a wood chipper feet first.

  2. Hey, you can’t question SCIENCE. It’s’ the same as TRUTH.

    1. What’s amazing is that, even though human subjectivity is always close by in most all scientific/technical processes, that so many assume them to be nonetheless unquestionably accurate. It seems that those who know the least about science and technology are the most adamant about their veracity.

      Objectivity is a procedural goal, not an absolute. Still the science tells that us that the earth that has survived so many violent changes over some 4.5 billion years also tells us that the human effect on 3% of the global CO2 will doom the planet.

      1. Science demands a fair amount of faith, heretic.

      2. Actually, the science here is completely solid. What’s missing is the basic procedures to correctly implement the science (double blind, positive and negative controls).

        1. The climate scientists are thiiiiis close to having a perfect model of the Earth. And they’ve already identified all the reasons they were consistently wrong in their past predictions. So their next predictions will surely be perfect.

          1. What does that have to do with police forensic testing?

            1. They are related due to a common ancestor (science)?

        2. OM- Don’t forget some labs are actually paid based on number of convictions. No way that could send the wrong message.

  3. I’ve heard of Cameltoe, but Kamalkant?

    1. Hey, half of all mammals gotta have one.

      1. Wish she had married him instead of Bill and hyphenated her name. Would’ve been quite descriptive.

      2. You mammals have a lot of unique and disturbing features

  4. It’s okay. Shah repeatedly screamed STOP RESISTING at the samples in lieu of testing them.

  5. Kevin Walker, an assistant public defender, issued a statement on behalf of the Public Defender’s Office Wednesday saying the office does not have “a practical mechanism for identifying all the cases involving” Shah.

    “The prosecuting attorneys are going to have to do that, by reviewing the records from the Little Falls lab and cross-referencing them with their files,” he said. “We assume the prosecutors will do that promptly…

    You assumed the evidence they presented against your clients was factual and you see where that got them.

  6. Seems that the Public Defender is not really a defender, defender, but merely there to fill out the process. So there’s more here than a lone, rogue lab tech.

    1. This was supposed to be a reply to Fist, above.

    2. People don’t call them public pretenders for no reason.

      1. what is a pubic defender? a chastity belt.

    3. Yeh, seems a bit weird to assume the prosecution will do the right thing according to the quote above. The defense should be kicking and screaming helping those affected by this.

      1. They’d be doing it for free. It’s not like the prosecution is going to pay public pretenders to overturn convictions.

        1. Justice!

        2. Public defenders do get paid.

          1. The office does not have an unlimited budget. So I’m sure that paying pretenders to overturn cases falls to the very bottom of the priority list.

            1. PD offices tend to have much heavier case loads and smaller budgets than prosecutors. I doubt the have the resources to keep up with current demand, never mind go back and fight cases over again. Sad, but true.

      2. This falls on the “court” to investigate. This is an affront to the court and its chief legal authority (judges), ie., contempt.

  7. was suspended but never charged with any crime and has reportedly retired.

    Sounds legit. I’m sure the defendants that tampered with evidence and effectively lied about key evidence under oath were treated the same.

  8. Was there a consensus? Because otherwise it isn’t science.

    1. the opposite of science is not religion, but rather wishful thinking.

      1. Most religion = wishful thinking.

  9. Lab technician.

    That usually means someone with no degree in science, maybe no degree at all, who has learned the tests by rote and then left to their own devices. They are just like drug dogs, they know what findings they are supposed to get.

    1. BUT IT’S SCIENCE or science – like or sciencey, maybe?

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  11. Usually when someone says they need to science the crap out of something, what they mean is that they need to engineer the crap out of it. (See the Martian and his potatoes.)

    Or, more likely, they need to just stop being stupid about something that is actually very simple. (See your neighbor and his artisanal, organic, small batch potatoes.)

  12. The summary and headline give a different impression than the article.

    “Mr. Shah was observed in one case spending insufficient time analyzing a substance to determine if it was marijuana and recording an anticipated result without properly conducting the analysis,” Honig said.

    I don’t know what the test was, but I’ll assume it was on the order of an ELISA for THC or other cannabinoids. So he’d be watching for a color change to develop and recording the result using a reference scale.

    So the most charitable interpretation would be that a tech who does hundreds of these tests per day mixed his reagents and saw it starting to turn blue immediately and just went and wrote down the positive result without waiting for the thing to fully develop over a 30 minute incubation. From a human “I put tab A into slot B” worker bee perspective this is perfectly understandable. Boring and repetitive tasks are boring….

    So probably not criminal evidence tampering.

    But what it does point out is the huge flaws in our current system of forensic testing. Because he was employed by the state, we are hoping for their good will and diligence in monitoring their own performance – something that runs counter to every incentive in the system.

    An independent testing industry would be easier to incentivize for accuracy. (and drug testing is probably far and away the most accurate testing that we currently do…)

    1. It’s like Chemistry I lab. People just fill out the results table without bothering to watch the tests.

      That used to piss me off, but I also went on to become a chemical engineer, I wasn’t trying to survive pre-med.

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  14. Why the fuck do government employees who commit grave injustices get to retire versus getting prosecuted and incarcerated?

    Smells like another case of Lois Lerner. Guilty as hell, needs to go to trial to face justice, yet the liberal DOJ will do nothing. Same thing here, and I suspect that when the FBI catches up to Hillary, they’ll just sweep that shit under the carpet too.

    Fuck government officials and their double-standard of justice.

  15. Why is there never a case where they find out that a lab tech has been falsifying negative results to set people free that actually had dope?

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