Innocence Blog

Science News - April 4, 2013

Posted: April 4, 2013 3:25 pm

The troubled Hinton State Crime Lab in Massachusetts fares poorly in a recent inspection, Ohio fires the same criminalist twice, and New York City police are turning to social media platforms to solve crimes. Here is this week’s roundup of news:
Massachusetts’ state investigators working for the Inspector General found several scattered drug samples during a recent inspection of the shuttered Hinton State Crime Lab. As a result of the inspection, investigators are now questioning many of the 190,000 cases processed, and not just the ones completed by a chemist indicted for falsifying drug evidence.
After being fired last May and then reinstated in October, a criminalist at the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab in Ohio, was recently fired again for the second time when additional accusations of falsifying lab reports and insubordination were raised. His attorney says the claims have no basis since the “crime lab is in utter disarray.”
A Massachusetts state police lieutenant who ran crime scene analysis for the state crime lab, has been removed from his post after it was discovered he acted as a consultant for the defense on a case. Prosecutors might review his role in the defense’s case and possibly call him as a witness for the prosecution.
New York City police are using facial recognition technology to develop investigative leads from matching photographs from surveillance footage, mug shots, and social media platforms. The facial recognition technology is not without error, and matching photographs without other evidence does not allow police to directly make an arrest.
Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Sam Houston State University found that forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are not always impartial and can provide expert opinions that favor those who hire them. Researchers discuss how the adversarial nature of the justice system could reduce objectivity in experts and lead to a bias referred to as the allegiance effect.

Tags: Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, New York, Science Thursday