"Reformers have for years recommended that all forensic labs be independent from law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies' and this is a key reform promoted by The Justice Project (2008). But fixing these problems is only half the answer' because half of the wrongful convictions attributed to misleading forensic evidence involved deliberate forensic fraud' evidence tampering' and/or perjury.
From "The Elephant in the Crime Lab," by co-authored by Sheila Berry and Larry Ytuarte; Forensic Examiner; Spring, 2009; http://www.t-mlaw.com/blog/post/the-elephant-in-the-crime-lab/
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "This is DeWine saying 'I want to end this rather than fix it,'” said Ohio Public Defender Timothy Young. “I’m sorry, but this was an employee of the agency you presently run. And you are the leading law enforcement officer in this state, and you have to set an example for how justice is supposed to work, and this is a bad example. You fix your own house and you fix it in the light of day instead of now putting the burden on defense attorneys.”
STORY: "Defense attorneys launch review of forensic scientist's cases," published by The Columbus Dispatch on November 4, 2016.
PHOTO CAPTION: "Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that a review by his department of some of the thousands of cases involving forensic scientist G. Michele Yezzo was sufficient.
GIST: "Defense lawyers from around the state are launching a sweeping review of cases involving a forensic scientist at the state crime lab who has been accused of being biased toward law enforcement.The Ohio Innocence Project, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, and the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center at the Case Western Reserve University Law School formed a task force to review all of G. Michele Yezzo’s cases. The defense attorneys believe every case Yezzo touched in her nearly 33 years at the Ohio attorney general's Bureau of Criminal Investigation is now in question after her personnel file revealed credibility issues and a long history of behavior problems. They say her history could upend dozens, if not hundreds, of cases. The review was formally announced days after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said that his office had already conducted an internal review of some of Yezzo’s work and found no issues. DeWine declined to conduct a sweeping review of Yezzo’s work using independent analysts. Instead, he said that moving forward he would evaluate defense attorneys' objections case by case. That stance didn’t sit well with many of the defense attorney organizations. They say a review by the same agency where Yezzo was employed is not credible, and neither is selecting random samples of her work. They believe a federal agency or a credible private lab should conduct an investigation into the thousands of cases Yezzo handled. They acknowledge that most of the people convicted in the cases Yezzo worked on are likely guilty, but it’s possible some are innocent. All cases should be reevaluated because Yezzo's credibility issues might have jeopardized defendants' constitutional right to a fair trial, they say. The argument that has already set one man free is that trials, plea agreements or sentences might have turned out differently had defense attorneys known about Yezzo's history when their clients were originally charged. “This is DeWine saying 'I want to end this rather than fix it,'” said Ohio Public Defender Timothy Young. “I’m sorry, but this was an employee of the agency you presently run. And you are the leading law enforcement officer in this state, and you have to set an example for how justice is supposed to work, and this is a bad example. You fix your own house and you fix it in the light of day instead of now putting the burden on defense attorneys.”.........In stories published Sunday, the Dispatch profiled two cases in which Yezzo’s work has been questioned. In one case, a judge freed a man after serving 23 years in prison for killing his wife. In the other, a man who was commuted off Death Row in 2010 by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland filed a motion asking for a new trial. He currently is serving a life sentence for a triple homicide. Yezzo’s personnel file also shows numerous explosive outbursts and confrontations with colleagues. These behavioral problems started shortly after she started at BCI in 1976 and continued until she resigned in 2009. Personnel records show Yezzo threatened to use a gun to shoot co-workers or herself. She hurled a metal plate at someone. She flipped off her boss and was accused of calling a black co-worker a racial slur..........The American Board of Criminalistics strictly defines the role of forensic scientists to render opinions and conclusions about the evidence in the case only. Their policy states criminalists such as Yezzo must “maintain an attitude of independence and impartiality in order to ensure an unbiased analysis of the evidence.” The American Academy of Forensic Sciences has a similar policy, but goes further to state that forensic scientists should “do nothing which would imply partisanship or any interest in a case except the proof of the facts.” Yezzo was a member of both of those governing organizations while employed at BCI. As expected, defense attorneys strongly disagree with DeWine's internal review and say it isn't credible. They say they have no idea how the review was conducted, which cases were selected for review and what criteria were used. "We will never know the real truth until they bring in an outside agency to do an audit of her cases," said Jon Saia, president of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who has served as a defense attorney for nearly 30 years. "If they don’t do that, then the attorney general is just hiding the truth from us. This was a leading expert witness from the state. An investigation needs to be launched and things need to be corrected." Others are hopeful DeWine's office will be cooperative and provide documents and information while Yezzo's work is reviewed by the defense lawyer organizations. "The two cases we have looked at so far show serious problems. That's 2 for 2," said Mark Godsey, director of the Ohio Innocence Project which is based at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. "Given the egregious nature of the problem, our task force will be attempting to review every case, and we hope that BCI and the AG's office will assist us in supplying the needed documentation."
The entire story can be found at: