Monday, September 13, 2010

North Carolina State Crime Lab Update

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced changes at the State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab. He named Gerald Arnold, former judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals, as the crime lab's interim director last week. This came after the the State Bureau of Investigation's crime lab was revealed to have some serious problems over the past twenty years of investigating cases as blogged about here and here. These stories about crime labs that are developing across the nation make clear that investigation and discovery are critical in any case involving crime lab results or analysis.

The News Observer reported more last week (full story here):
For 21 years, a key group of State Bureau of Investigation agents tasked with interpreting bloodstain patterns at crime scenes operated on their own, without leadership or written policies.
The News & Observer requested a copy of the bloodstain analysis policy in July. The Department of Justice, which oversees the SBI, provided it late last week. The policy was dated October 2009, eight weeks after the acquittal of a Clemmons dentist highlighted shoddy bloodstain analysis.

Eric Hooks, assistant SBI director, said it was the agency's first policy involving bloodstain pattern analysis.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Roy Cooper wouldn't discuss the lack of policy or bureau leadership, saying the unit was under investigation. Cooper said the group's work remains suspended until he's convinced that their work is scientific and unbiased.

"I was concerned about the potential of influence of prosecutors on the opinions of some SBI agents regarding this science," Cooper said.

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