"The work of a second crime lab analyst has been called into question, just a day after Oregon State Police confirmed a forensic analyst was under investigation for tampering with drug evidence, according to the Deschutes County's top prosecutor. The second analyst, a man who had worked in the state's lab in Central Point, was investigated by state police for providing inflated and inaccurate testimony in court cases, according to John Hummel, the Deschutes County district attorney. "It seems to me there's been more of a desire to protect the reputation of the crime lab than to ensure the integrity of evidence," Hummel said. "That's concerning to me." Hummel and others are voicing concerns about work within the state's labs and on Thursday called for an independent investigation into an analyst in Bend, a woman who has not been identified, as well as a review of the labs' operations. The current case involving the Bend analyst likely affects nearly 1,000 cases -- most in Eastern Oregon -- including 502 in Deschutes County. Hummel said he was notified six months ago by state police about potential problems with evidence in six cases handled by a longtime analyst in Central Point. It appears that analyst no longer works for the state. Between these two analysts, he said, "it tells me we have a significant problem in the Oregon State Police crime labs."......... The analyst in Bend is accused of stealing drug evidence and, at times, replacing the drugs she took with other pills or substances to avoid detection, according to Hummel. The analyst had most recently worked in Bend, but had previously operated out of the state's labs in Ontario and Pendleton. It's unclear whether the current review of her work includes evidence she processed during her time at those labs.
Problems with evidence can destroy current cases and convictions, as
well as sentencing and other legal considerations. Work to review and
possibly re-test evidence in affected cases could drag on for months and
will likely cost thousands for those already strapped counties in
Eastern Oregon." (Thanks to Radley Balko (Washington Post) for drawing this story to our attention.)
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