We are returning to the story about the former North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation employee and his lawsuit alleging the SBI fired him without cause. Duane Deaver, a crime lab analyst, claimed that he was merely a scapegoat for the agency after the lab’s improper and questionable practices came to light. Deaver lost his job after investigators traced serious procedural errors directly to him.
When we left off in our April 25 post, we were talking about Deaver’s deposition in the matter. He chose not to testify at the hearing earlier in April, but news outlets gained access to the deposition transcript. Deaver’s statements there supported his assertion that he was not to blame, that he was only doing what he was told to do, and that he was merely the fall guy for an agency that was in deep, deep trouble. Finally, he maintained that, if reinstated, he could continue to be a crime lab expert in court cases and that the allegations would not affect his credibility.
While Deaver did not testify, his supervisor did. That testimony brought to light claims made by the Innocence Inquiry Commission as the most troubling (see part 2 of this series). This was the first time an SBI agent had been accused of such a thing, he told the court, and that will not be easily forgotten.
The testimony continued: Deaver has lost his credibility, and that means he cannot be an effective SBI agent. He also characterized the internal investigation into an accusation regarding flawed blood evidence in a murder case a little differently. Where Deaver said the SBI found the allegation to be unsubstantiated, his supervisor said the investigation was inconclusive.
In addition to being reinstated, Deaver is asking to be compensated for back pay and benefits. There is no word on when the court will hand down its decision.
For the SBI, the lawsuit and Deaver’s hearing put the crime lab scandal back in the headlines. The real question, perhaps, is whether the SBI’s credibility can ever completely live down its past.
WRAL, “Fired SBI analyst: ‘I have done nothing wrong’,” Cullen Browder, April 9, 2014
ABC Local/WTVD, “SBI director testifies in Deaver hearing,” Ed Crump, April 3, 2014