Here’s a quick look at forensics-related stories in the news over the past few weeks:
- The Texas Forensic Science Commission has asked the state’s attorney general to issue an opinion on the admissibility of bite mark evidence.
- An analyst in the Oregon state crime lab is facing federal charges after allegations that she stole drug evidence. As many as 1,500 cases may be affected.
- And at the same lab, there are allegations that an analyst didn’t follow procedure during a fingerprint match, “then altered a report to make it appear he had.”
- In Broward County, Fla., where just a few years ago a drug analyst resigned after it was revealed she may have tainted thousands of cases, a whistleblower is now alleging that the police agency is “using inconclusive DNA to charge people with crimes.”
- Austin has closed its DNA lab after an audit found “improper handling of samples and a staff not trained in the latest research techniques.” A TV station found that similar concerns about the lab were raised five years ago.
- Massachusetts’s highest court has ruled that people convicted after accepting plea bargains could get new trials if their pleas were based on evidence from crime lab analyst Annie Dookhan. The disgraced drug analyst has admitted to faking test results to favor law enforcement. Nearly 9,000 convictions may be affected.
- In New Jersey, a state judge says nearly 15,000 drug convictions may be tainted by a crime lab analyst there who was shown to have faked the results in a marijuana test.
- Finally, the National Park Service announces an “innocence project for bears.”