STORY: "Broward Sheriff's Office Forensics Lab Could Be Mishandling DNA Evidence, Whistleblower Warns," by reporter Jerry Iannelli, published by The Broward New Times on June 29, 2016.
GIST: "In March 2015, prosecutors temporarily stopped sending evidence to what was then a state-of-the-art city forensics lab in Washington, DC, over concerns technicians had bungled cases and misstated the likelihood DNA had been left at a crime scene. Earlier this month, the crime lab for the entire city of Austin, Texas, was shut down amid concern its technicians weren't following proper procedure. Both events amounted to earthquakes in the criminal-justice world: Crime labs are responsible for handling nearly every piece of physical evidence. They need to be accurate. Now, according to an independent forensics analyst, the very same DNA issues have struck the scandal-plagued Broward Sheriff's Office Crime Lab. The place is just now recovering from allegations a former drug analyst potentially tainted thousands of separate cases. The whistleblower, Tiffany Roy, a former forensics analyst for the state of Massachusetts, works as a private forensics expert in Boynton Beach. In 2014, she was hired to double-check DNA evidence that was swabbed from a knife handle. Much to Roy's surprise, she found the DNA evidence inconclusive. On October 2, 2015, Roy complained to the American Society of Crime Lab Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board, the national organization responsible for accrediting crime labs. Her complaint, first published by Bill Gelin's J.A.A.B. Blog, triggered an ongoing ASCLD-LAB investigation, which could ultimately lead to sanctions against the crime lab or the reopening of thousands of criminal cases. Though such labs are critical, they are routinely underfunded. Labs across the country have been shut down due to everything from faulty equipment to employees straight-up stealing drugs on the job. So this past December, the Department of Justice asked prosecutors to rely only on accredited labs, but it's unclear if the shift will really fix anything. Case in point: BSO's accredited crime lab. Starting in 2012, former drug analyst Kelli McDonald became the subject of multiple Internal Affairs investigations after cocaine evidence in multiple cases she'd handled was found to be inconsistent. After being transferred out of the department, she chose to resign in November. McDonald had worked on thousands of cases. Critics, like the Broward Public Defender's Office, contend that any drug evidence McDonald touched can't be trusted in court. In Roy's October complaint, she wrote that after reviewing the evidence in her case, "serious concerns were raised for me regarding the methods being employed by Broward County in the interpretation of complex DNA mixtures." Her issues, she said, stem from the lab's usage of the "stochastic threshold," a measurement that tells analysts whether the DNA is "complete" enough to be used in a trial. Speaking to New Times, Roy says she felt BSO was using inconclusive DNA to charge people with crimes. She explained the industry's "best practices" for DNA analysis had been made more stringent in 2011. BSO, it seemed to her, hadn't updated. "DNA is like a genetic description... like hair color, eye color, weight, birth mark, or a tattoo," she explains. "You can get a lot of mixable profile data, sort of like saying a perpetrator is a six-foot-tall black male in his twenties." In her complaint, she accused BSO of using that generic description to charge specific people with crimes. "Broward is taking the 'six-foot-tall black male' information and making it seem like it’s got more importance than it really does," she said."(Likewise, the use of DNA evidence, in general, has recently been called into question.) In a multipoint response letter sent to the ASCLD-LAB on December 28, Crime Lab Director Claudine Carter Pereira denied the charges. BSO had conducted a "thorough investigation" of the complaint, Carter wrote, adding: "Based on our investigation into the issues brought forth in this allegation, it is our opinion that they are unfounded." The results of the investigation have yet to become public: Roy says the ASCLD-LAB issued a ruling "unfavorable" to BSO on April 12, but that BSO appealed the decision on June 21. This has not stopped the crime lab's critics from speaking out."
The entire story can be found at:
For update see post by Attorney Gary Cole on "The Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defence Attorney Blog (July 9, 2016) which can be found at the link below: "A former forensics analyst for Massachusetts who now works as a private consultant, lodged a complaint against the Broward Sheriff’s Office crime lab with the national organization that accredits crime labs. The analyst, Tiffany Roy, was hired to review DNA evidence found on a knife handle. Her complaint stated, that she had “serious concerns” about the methods used by the lab and that the “approach they are using now is biased.” The accrediting organization, the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, issued its conclusions in April that supported Ms. Roy’s complaints. BSO has appealed those conclusions. As a result, BSO has suspended the testing of certain DNA evidence and have begun notifying defendant’s and defense attorneys in cases that might be effected by the complaint."
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.
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:
Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;