Law Office of Christopher A. Connelly
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Like dominoes: one story after another re tainted forensic labs

Here we go again.

It's not as though our Charlotte criminal law blog at the Law Office of Christopher Connelly hasn't duly noted representative stories that seem to arise with numbing frequency regarding material shortcomings discovered in police forensic laboratories.

Indeed, readers scanning our posts over the past couple years will readily note that such tales do sometimes garner our strong attention.

As they should, given that DNA-related mistakes made by technicians can yield truly awful consequences for innocent human beings in cases involving sex crimes, alleged drug-related offenses and other matters.

Our principal attorney has been providing knowledgeable and aggressive legal representation to individuals accused of criminal conduct for a quarter of a century, and flatly knows from experience that government-supplied evidence that posits guilt must be regarded as a suspect offering. That is, it must be exactingly examined in every instance and regarded with professional cynicism unless what it purports to convey is ultimately proved beyond every reasonable doubt.

Experience shows that meeting that important threshold is often something that state actors cannot do.

And one reason why is sometimes this: It turns out to be the case that evidence offered that is linked with forensic testing in a DNA lab is flatly tainted.

Indeed, integrity in the criminal justice system takes a blow even when a reasonable likelihood of flawed results exists.

That was once again proven recently pursuant to news reports noting the suspension of a lab principal in one metropolitan testing facility. Among other things, that individual was found to have signed off on evidence collected through the use of "outdated calculations." Additionally, she gave passing marks in her capacity as a lab auditor for facilities nationwide to a unit ultimately deemed to be working with contaminated evidence that was evaluated by improperly trained technicians.

The downside implications of that are clearly staggering for a defendant in any given case.

Our law firm regards evidence against clients as something that must be routinely subjected to close and methodical examination. The role of a proven legal advocate centrally embraces an insistence that state authorities prove every shred of evidence in a criminal case.

Justice demands that. And the dire need for stringent proof requirements is recurrently underscored by stories like the above, which importantly put a spotlight on the fallibility of evidence that is often given a free ride because of its perceived "scientific" nature.

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