Forensic laboratories  are failing to abide by the high standards American justice demands and have come under scrutiny for lacking scientific standards leading to unacceptable errors all over the country. The reliability of forensic evidence is a recurring problem in federal FBI labs as well as many state labs and in Tampa Bay Florida prosecutions. What happens when the forensic laboratory tests from the state of Massachusetts can no longer be trusted? How could their problems have any significance for Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorneys in Florida?

Here’s an excerpt from an email sent by attorney Miriam Conrad of Massachusetts who shows us how interconnected Florida is to every other state in the country when it comes to faulty forensic laboratory results:

faulty forensic lab work has consequences for criminal cases in Florida
Bastida, Doctor’s Laboratory

I am writing to alert you to an exploding scandal in Massachusetts involving misconduct by a chemist in the Massachusetts state drug testing lab. The scope of the misconduct hasn’t been fully revealed, but is serious enough to have resulted in the closing of the lab.
While the consequences are most immediately apparent for our clients herein Massachusetts whose federal cases involved the chemist or state lab, I wanted to notify you in the event that you have any clients (past or present) whose sentences were enhanced (career offender, 851, ACCA) based on a Massachusetts drug conviction. The chemist worked in the lab from 2003 until 2012. We have recent information that at least as of 2010, she was responsible for quality control in the lab, so all results from that period of time — whether or not she did the testing — may be in doubt.

Although there are many good lab technicians such as the forenic lab that recreated a novel a blind person wrote without ink. There are also failed lab technicians who place innocent lives in jeopardy of false convictions. As you can see fabricated evidence or faulty forensic laboratory analysis can directly impact the prior record of a Defendant even if the lab test was done years ago by placing doubt upon any prior convictions based on evidence from that laboratory. And it means that Clearwater Criminal Lawyers will filing Motions for Resentencing after checking up to see if clients who were sentenced here in Florida had any prior criminal acts from Massachusetts which were wrongfully counted.


Every attorney practicing Criminal Law needs to be aware that Testimony provided by Government Experts is often riddled with error. And error leads to the worst thing that can happen in criminal law, wrongful convictions.
 A new book, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward shows the failure of many crime labs to abide by scientific standards. Here are a few of their findings:

Forensic labs “lack mandatory and enforceable standards, founded on vigorous research and testing, certification requirements, and accreditation. Additionally, forensic science and forensic pathology research, education, and training lack strong ties to our research universities and national science assets.  …  In addition to the problems emanating from the fragmentation of the forensic science community, the most recently published Census of Crime Laboratories conducted by BJS describes unacceptable case backlogs in state and local crime laboratories.”  Due to documented understaffing, the NRC found that makes it difficult for the labs to avoid errors.  They find the standards of forensic practice in need of serious upgrading.  Of greater concern than that they are understaffed is the “knowledge base” problem; “Adding more dollars and people to the enterprise may reduce case backlogs, but it will not address fundamental limitations in the capabilities of forensic science disciplines to discern valid information from crime scene evidence.”

Forensic “science ” research is hap-hazard, and they criticize it being driven by “professional [i,e., LEO] cultures” with a “reliance on apprentice-type training and a guide-like structure of disciplines.” — “The fragmented nature of the enterprise raises the worrisome prospect that the quality of evidence presented in court, and its interpretation, can vary unpredictably according to jurisdiction.” The forensic science community lacks central governance to pull itself out of its current weaknesses, and none of the disciplines sees any need for change — though NRC does — they are certain that DOJ and the FBI should not be the seat of that governing body though: “There is little doubt that some existing federal entities are too wedded to the current ‘fragmented’ forensic science community, which is deficient in too many respects.  Most notably, those agencies fail to produce a rigorous research agenda to confirm the evidence reliability methodologies used.”

Now they know what we always knew: it’s like science, but not always real science with the rigors and tests of reliability real science requires; leading to real errors as well as   erroneous interpretation of results in testimony. It’s also important to note that even fingerprint evidence is often unreliable and DNA evidence can be fabricated, with the government often providing false forensics testimony.