Late last week, the Oregon State Police notified local district attorneys about potential problems with their cases as the law enforcement agency launched investigations into misconduct by one of its own forensic analysts. According to various news sources, the analyst is accused of tampering with drug evidence and potentially affecting the integrity of more than a thousand cases.
According to the
, last Friday the Oregon State Police issued a statement on Friday that said that one of the agency’s criminal forensics analysts—who worked for the agency for eight years at labs in Bend, Pendleton and Ontario—is accused of stealing drugs sent to labs for analysis. In some cases, the analyst supposedly replaced the contents with over-the-counter pills so as to cover up the drugs she took.
The Associated Press reports that the alleged misconduct raises doubt around many current criminal drug cases and convictions. Retesting and retrying cases could cost local counties thousands of dollars. “Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said he must retest the evidence in 502 cases dating back to 2012. In Klamath County, District Attorney Rob Patridge said he’s reviewing 328 cases dating as far back as 2007,” writes the Associated Press.
Sadly, this is not the only case of misconduct by a state forensic analyst that the Oregon State Police are currently investigating. Last year, the agency alerted local district attorneys about the work of a now-retired analysts who may have overstated results in a 2005 criminal trial. Also, in recent years, the agency shut down its handwriting unit when it reviewed the work of analysts who worked on handwriting samples and uncovered “evidence of bias, sloppy work and dishonesty,” reports the
article published on Saturday, the Co-Founder of the
Oregon Innocence Project
Aliza Kaplan said, “We need crime labs, and we need them to do a good job—to avoid wrongful convictions but also for our victims. . . . We need to be sure that the right people are going to jail.”
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