Attorneys for Prince George's County are asking a federal judge to block a former employee of the county's police drug lab--who in a lawsuit challenging her dismissal alleges widespread irregularities in testing at the facility--from obtaining further information about the lab's practices.
Allegations by the chemist, Kellie Lynn Campbell, about the quality of work performed at the lab have led defense attorneys to challenge the lab's findings in more than 100 drug cases in Prince George's County courts.
The state's attorney's office dropped charges in November against one defendant in a drug case after Campbell told prosecutors that she could not vouch for the drug analysis in that case and that there may be problems in other cases.
A police internal affairs investigation determined that Campbell lied to prosecutors and police investigators and failed to prepare for a case assigned to her for trial.
Campbell's civil lawsuit against the police department and the county alleges that she was fired in March for speaking out about problems in the drug lab.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, county attorneys contend that Campbell is not entitled to information about the work at the lab because it is irrelevant to her lawsuit.
Campbell has sought additional information about testing practices at the lab, which she alleges are substandard and performed with equipment that is not in proper working order.
In their motion seeking to keep such information from Campbell, Assistant County Attorneys Rhonda L. Weaver and William A. Snoddy wrote, "The issue is not whether we have an inadequate lab." They said that if evidence about the quality of the lab's work were permitted at trial, it would be too time-consuming and require too many of the county's resources.
The county's motion is being considered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day.
Campbell's attorneys argued that the drug lab documents and their ability to question drug lab officials are crucial to their client's case.
"The information regarding problems with drug analysis bolsters Ms. Campbell's credibility and establishes the veracity of her complaints about improprieties in the forensic laboratory," wrote Eric L. Siegel and Francisco J. Ruben, Campbell's attorneys.
They also noted that county attorneys questioned Campbell extensively about procedures in the drug lab when she was deposed Sept. 17. "It is simply incredible defendants would assert this information is not relevant," they wrote.
Campbell's attorneys also said in court papers that police allowed WTTG-TV (Fox 5) to tour and record footage of the drug lab on Aug. 26 and argue that they should have the same opportunity.