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Science Thursday - February 28, 2013

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Posted: February 28, 2013   4:10 PM

A Vermont crime lab questions its blood alcohol testing results, a massive case review will be delayed in St. Paul, and recent lab problems in Massachusetts affect the state budget. Here’s this week’s round up of forensic news:
Blood alcohol testing machines in a Vermont state crime lab were not properly maintained or calibrated, leading to inaccurate results. In a recent trial, two lab analysts testified about submitting complaints about the faulty testing equipment to the lab supervisor.
Thousands of past drug convictions are still pending review in St. Paul after a judge delayed her decision in a related case. The hearing is now rescheduled for May 3. The lab’s drug testing unit has been shuttered.
City Council members allocated money to hire more staff for the Austin, Texas Police Department crime lab to deal with a serious backlog of cases. Criminal judges and defense attorneys are urging the lab to hire more staff immediately.
At a recent state budget hearing in Massachusetts, lawmakers discussed how two recent scandals affected the backlog of crime lab testing. These cases, specifically the one at Hinton State Lab, significantly impact nearly every budget within the criminal justice sector.
The disagreement between the Denver district attorney and the police chief over lab personnel became a public sparring match recently. Accusations over a lack of professionalism have criminal justice experts wondering if the departments can still work together effectively.

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