Friday, July 20, 2012

DOJ/FBI massive probe of cases for faulty forensics: Texas Criminal lawyer Paul Kennedy; root of problem: How the so-called "crime labs" operate;

STORY: "FBI to review thousands of cases for faulty forensics," Paul Kennedy, a criminal defence lawyer in Houston, Texas, published on his blog "For The Defence," on July 16, 2012.

GIST: "The root of the problem is the way so-called crime labs operate. These "labs" are arms of state or local law enforcement agencies - so the people testing the evidence are employees of the same entity that arrested the suspect in the first place. The set-up creates a glaring conflict of interest that most criminal judges are loathe to do anything about. The analysis is passed off as valid science even though the analyst is employed by law enforcement. The employees of the crime lab see themselves as part of the same team as the police. And this creates a massive problem. Over in the civil courthouse, such an arrangement would raise more than a few eyebrows. The civil courts are accustomed to arguments regarding the validity of a particular test or conclusion. Courts routinely conduct hearings to determine whether or not a particular expert witness will be allowed to testify. Conclusions, assumptions and observations are scrutinized by both attorneys and judges. But over in the criminal courthouse, where lives, not dollars, are at stake, judges will rarely prevent an analyst from testifying for the state - even though all of his training was provided through the police department and is based on what another officer taught him. Judges in the criminal courts think nothing of allowing an officer to testify as to the validity of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test despite the fact the officer has no knowledge of how the eye works or why alcohol supposedly causes nystagmus. Analysts with little or no scientific training are allowed to testify as to the results of forensic tests when they can't even explain why a certain procedure is followed..........Control of crime labs must be taken out of the hands of law enforcement. The labs must be accessible to both the defense and the state. Judges need to take another look at Daubert and Frye and, in Texas, Kelly and Mata to remind themselves what their role as gatekeeper means. Defense attorneys need to learn more about the science behind the testing and need to learn to question the analysts' basic assumptions."

The entire post can be found at:


I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

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:

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.