Saturday, April 6, 2013

Jonathan Salvador: Grits for Breakfast reacts to the Forensic Commission meeting on the Masschusetts crime lab debacle - including a perspective on "drylabbing." Must read. HL.

POST: "On defining 'drylabbing': More from forensic commission meeting on DPS crime lab debacle," published by Grits for Breakfast on April 6, 2013.

GIST: "Notably, the commission removed from the final report a quote from the Rangers' investigation in which Mr. Salvador implausibly denied the implications of the evidence against him, declaring, "he has seen too many people go down after admitting that they 'dry-labbed.'" Dr. Sarah Kerrigan herself implausibly tried to differentiate what Salvador did (knowingly using results from a test of one sample to report in a different case) from drylabbing, but I don't see the distinction. I agree with her that Salvador's intent was not to falsely accuse anyone, but for whatever reason it's done, plugging in numbers from a different case and reporting them in the one you're working on to me qualifies as drylabbing by any possible definition. He reported results without running the tests. Dr. Kerrigan thought it significant that Salvador "attempted" analysis before using the numbers from another case. For the purposes of defining "drylabbing," I respectfully disagree"......It's worth mentioning that, if the Forensic Science Commission didn't exist, the extraordinary implications of this episode relating to thousands of convictions would have never become fully known. DPS would have still reported the incident to their accrediting body, crime lab chief Pat Johnson emphasized, but the FSC is the only vehicle for that information to ever get out in a public forum. And the ability of the FSC to pull together stakeholders, from DPS itself to prosecutors and the defense bar, has meant that Texas' response to this episode, however flawed, has been more prompt and thoroughgoing than a similar (even larger-scale) episode currently ongoing in Masschusetts, said FSC general counsel Garcia, adding that she'd received numerous communiques from officials in the Bay State seeking to understand how Texas is handling the Salvador situation. Chairman Vincent DiMaio said that these episodes suggest the need for "disaster protocols" for similar, future crime lab implosions that may crop up as the forensic sciences receive greater scrutiny in the coming years."

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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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