Inspector General Report Blasts NYS Crime Lab

The New York Inspector General's Office has released its report (available here) on the trace evidence section of the New York State Crime lab and it's chilling.

The New York State Police’s supervision of a crime laboratory was so poor that it overlooked evidence of pervasively shoddy forensics work, allowing an analyst to go undetected for 15 years as he falsified test results and compromised nearly one-third of his 322 cases, an investigation by the state’s inspector general has found.

The examiners in the trace evidence section examine fibers, arson residue, footwear impressions, glass, hair, and other evidence. It finds that State Police Forensic Scientist Garry Veeder, who committed suicide in 2008 while under investigation, "failed to conduct required tests while examining fiber evidence and falsified records to conceal his misconduct." [More...]

The Inspector General determined that Veeder’s longstanding violations of laboratory protocol escaped detection because laboratory staff’s technical, or peer, reviews of Veeder’s fiber examinations were substandard, overlooking obvious indications that Veeder had omitted the required fiber test.

Those who reviewed Veeder's work are also critized. The report recommends they be investigated.

Despite Mr. Veeder’s claims that he had been taught how to falsify test results and had been given inadequate training poorly, State Police investigators and the lab’s management “minimized and precipitously discarded the seriousness and extent of problems” of fiber analysis at the lab.

....“There exists no doubt that laboratory management possessed sufficient information that Veeder’s individual misconduct implicated potentially broader systemic issues, but failed to take appropriate action,” the report said.

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    denominator? (1.00 / 0) (#9)
    by diogenes on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 10:11:42 PM EST
    How many investigators are there and how many like Vedeer were proven to falsify evidence? I would dare say that a higher percentage of defense attorneys have suborned perjury in criminal defense cases than forensic investigators have deliberately falsified evidence.  

    Nightmare come true (none / 0) (#1)
    by MKS on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 12:39:08 PM EST
    People have such confidence in scientific evidence....And, it can all be messed up by incompetence or worse....

    The hits just keep on comin'... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 01:12:53 PM EST
    from the NY criminal "justice" system...starting to wonder if we should pardon everybody who is locked just to be on the safe side.  

    If it puts NY'ers at a higher risk of being a victime of a crime so be it...some might argue we have it coming for allowing the system to do how it do.  Next open thread I got another doozy out of NY.


    Juries are a crap-shoot, (none / 0) (#3)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 01:19:10 PM EST
    scientific evidence or not.

    of the state's incompetency and outright falsifications.

    People often say that (none / 0) (#5)
    by MKS on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 03:18:32 PM EST
    but I think if you know the background of the jurors, their decisions can be predictable.  At least that is what various jury consultants will say.  

    Nowadays, the more sophisticated clients in large civil cases will insist that their trial counsel use a jury consultant.  One group has developed a nationwide database correlating answers to certain questions on juror questionairres--which are now expressly preferred by court rule here in California because they are supposed to cut down on voir dire time--with actual verdicts and specific votes of individual jurors.  They have thousands of jurors and answers to questions and verdicts, so the database is extensive.   And, this particular consultant, who has worked on a list of very big and famous cases, has a good track record.  The questions, developed by Ph.D. sociologists, are very interesting--asking about thoughts on damages, the court system and the like.

    With that kind of info on your jury, you have a better idea what they are going to do than a single judge.....Sometimes a judge will pull something out of thin air--even a judge you may have known for a long time.  With 12 people (or 6 in Federal court) on a jury, a lot of the weird, off-the-wall stuff tends to get cancelled out, or so I think.....

    And, this consultant earned her reputation working on some very high profile cases.  Her outfit has been hired by the Prosecution side and the Defense side....I don't think a Public Defender's office would get the funds to use a jury consultant, though.

    Not such a crap shoot when armed with the right info....People process information and screen out facts that are not consistent with their world view, or at least such info is viewed with less credibility....Yep, sounds like your nearest conservative....but a very human trait.


    Interesting stuff MKS (none / 0) (#6)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 03:46:28 PM EST
    Must be (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 03:56:57 PM EST
    a prosecutor's office in a rich jurisdiction.

    It was the Scott Peterson case (none / 0) (#8)
    by MKS on Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 05:06:32 PM EST
    Tried in Northern California....

    I had a marijuana possession dismissed (none / 0) (#10)
    by Ben Masel on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 06:34:44 AM EST
    in 1987, after the NY State lab lost the evidence.