It isn’t quite a “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” situation, but chances are the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was hoping that the ugly allegations and close scrutiny of crime lab practices were fading from memory. A hearing earlier in April dredged it all up again, though, and once again the SBI finds itself in an awkward position.
We followed the investigation into the SBI’s crime lab from the beginning (seehere), when the News & Observer’s series of articles sent the agency into turmoil and, eventually, a time-out. Prosecutors and defense attorneys alike dove into their files to review cases that turned on questionable evidence, particularly blood evidence.
There were a number of questions about the SBI’s close relationship with prosecutors and police, and there were allegations that crime lab analysts had failed to perform necessary tests and had failed to share unfavorable test results with prosecutors. There were allegations that analysts lied in court about blood evidence, and there were questions about the analysts’ training.
For a while, it felt as if heads were rolling at all levels of the SBI. The state Department of Justice had to do something to show that there was some kind of accountability at the agency; then the DOJ had to figure out how to rebuild confidence in the crime lab.
Much of this has surfaced again as a result of a former SBI analyst’s employment case. The analyst was fired in 2011, and he wants his job back. He claims he was a scapegoat.
We’ll continue this in our next post.
Source: WRAL, “Fired SBI analyst: ‘I have done nothing wrong’,” Cullen Browder, April 9, 2014