News 06.20.13

Science News – June 20, 2013

The Colorado Attorney General disclosed a report to prosecutors three weeks before sharing it with the defense community, the Mississippi medico-legal system is under scrutiny, and a Florida crime lab lost drug evidence. Here is the round up of news for the week:

 

According to minutes from a district attorney’s meeting, the Colorado Attorney General told prosecutors about the alleged misconduct at a state toxicology lab

three weeks before sharing the same report with defense lawyers

. The delay, along with the report alleging bias in the crime lab, fuel the suspicions about the state crime lab long held by the defense community.

 

According to a recent Mississippi Law Journal article, the medico-legal death investigation system in the state has

contributed many flawed forensic analyses over a span of forty years

. The report claims that that these flawed analyses have resulted in wrongful convictions and have been marked by a lack of meaningful oversight. Stakeholders in the state are pushing for the investigation of one medical examiner tied to several wrongful convictions, though the state attorney general has not granted the investigation thus far.

 

A Florida crime lab lost around a half gram of drug evidence but failed to notify the prosecutors handling the case or the public defender’s office. The lost evidence

was discovered during an internal affairs investigation

, which noted the responsible criminalist is “unorganized in her work.”

 

Although the Washington State crime lab has unprocessed evidence from several arson cases, the Spokane Fire Department ruled that

it will not reopen several local cases for investigation

. The Department reviewed evidence and legal documents for cases analyzed by the state lab but ruled no local cases involved a suspect conviction.

 

New DNA technology could be used to tag criminals at a crime scene. The DNA, which would be artificial and not have similar sequences as found in nature,

could be deployed in a fog or spray at a bank robbery or other similar crime events

. The genetic materials would be difficult to wash off completely and help link suspects to the crime scene.

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