Monday, January 26, 2015

Back at work: Catch-up: (22); "Chemistry World" asks "hard questions" after "litany of forensic failures at US labs." For a start: "Is something rotten at the heart of US forensic science?" (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "Hard questions after litany of forensic failures at US labs," by reporter Rebecca Trager, published by Chemistry World on December 1, 2014.

GIST: "At least five high profile cases of serious malpractice at US forensic crime labs have come to light in the last two years, most resulting in the arrest of chemists working there. These scandals have called into question key evidence used in criminal cases, and have resulted in hundreds convictions being overturned. And this malpractice had led critics to ask a bigger question. Is something rotten at the heart of US forensic science?.........In the thousands of cases in which evidence was or may have been compromised are defendants – people – who have been pushed through our criminal justice system at a volume that creates a burden on the forensic system,’ says Sarah Chu, senior forensic policy advocate at the Innocence Project. ‘Some defendants may have even pled guilty despite their innocence in order to mitigate harsh prison sentences that probably looked very possible after they were confronted with what appeared to be indisputable scientific evidence.’ ‘What does not come to light is all of the information that these labs provide’ Chu says that in these malpractice cases the Innocence Project recommends independent investigations of the lab involved. More importantly, she adds, the root cause of the problem has to found and action taken to make sure that this never happens again.There is now widespread acknowledgment of the significant increase in the number of forensic malpractice cases in recent years. And there is also a growing consensus about a lack of oversight at these crime labs or, at the very least, insufficient checks. ‘What happened to institutional controls that should have caught these [cases]?’ Lee asks. ‘It is definitely time for stricter controls over forensic laboratories,’ he says. Lee calls the field a ‘wild, wild west’, and says there is no true oversight such as in the pharmaceutical industry or the US Environmental Protection Agency’s laboratories."

The entire story can be found at:


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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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