Following testimony from a lab supervisor indicating knowledge of evidence handling problems years ago, the Nassau County forensics facility has been shut down. District Attorney Kathleen Rice states she was having trouble justifying leaving the lab open, “If my faith is shaken, that’s it.”
According to the Post the only cases affected thus far are those where drug purity was an issue, perhaps meaning the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor charge. But this is no small number of cases, with 9,000 currently being reviewed from as far back as 2007.
With the doors shut, at least temporarily, drug evidence will need to be processed by a private lab in Pennsylvania, costing time and money the county doesn’t have. Ballistic evidence will go to a state-run lab and DNA evidence is already being handled by an outside private lab. Lab workers have been reassigned to patrol.
Another problem, perhaps even more serious that the drug purity analysis is the possibility that the issue was common knowledge for years and nothing was done.
According to a supervisory crime lab Detective Lieutenant, he made his boss at police headquarters aware of the problems back in 2006. But, no action was taken. This came to light during the detective’s testimony in another case.
The DA claims there was no evidence of faulty evidence handling in DNA cases and also states the blood alcohol equipment was accurate and working correctly. Cases specifically involving the drugs ecstasy and ketamine are those thought to have been effected. All those cases being reviewed will undergo said review at an outside lab.
The county police, however, are conducting an internal investigation into the labs and potential knowledge of flawed practices there. A police spokesperson stated the investigation is “of the forensic evidence bureau, including the potential of supervisory awareness related to the testing inaccuracies.”
In a criminal case, evidence is paramount. The integrity of the evidence and the manner in which it is handled and evaluated cannot be compromised or the case risks losing all credibility. When you are facing criminal charges in New York State, the likelihood that your evidence will be mishandled is slim though possible.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will analyze the evidence that the state has against you and ensure that it was handled correctly and with respect to your constitutional rights. If your rights were violated during the collection of evidence or if a search was conducted outside of your rights, there’s an opportunity to have the evidence ruled inadmissible in a court of law. Such a ruling can have a significant impact on your case.
If you are facing criminal charges, whether drug related or not, we may be able to help. Contact our attorneys today for a consultation on your case.