Michigan officials closed the Detroit Police Department crime lab yesterday after a report found a 10% error rate in ballistic testing. Leaders called the results “catastrophic” and “appalling” before vowing to get to work to fix the problem. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said bad tests could have sent innocent people to prison.
"If we have even one person in prison on evidence that was improperly done, that's a huge problem," Worthy said. "As prosecutors, we completely rely on the findings of police crime lab experts every day in court and we present this information to juries. And when there are failures of this magnitude, there is a … betrayal of trust."
The audit warned that if the error rate holds, "the negative impact on the judicial system would be substantial, with a strong likelihood of wrongful convictions and a valid concern about numerous appeals."
"The language may be dry, but it destroys the credibility of the firearms lab and calls into question all the lab work in general," said David Moran, head of the Innocence Project at the University of Michigan Law School.
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. (Detroit Free Press, 09/25/08)