St. Paul Crime Lab under scrutiny for procedures and devices

The St. Paul Crime Lab has come under much scrutiny. Now, the legal challenges against some of the evidence tested at the lab are going back to the courtroom in order to see if the testing procedures and equipment could have contaminated the results.

Last month, the Dakota County District judge ruled the case against the St. Paul Crime Lab can be reopened. At question is whether the equipment and testing procedures could have resulted in inaccurate results. If true, this in turn could have resulted in innocent people being charged with drug crimes they really did not commit.

The case was put before the county district judge by two public defenders. This was after two reports showed more problems at the crime lab. One of these reports even described the testing devices as being "in very poor operating conditions." The concern is that these poor conditions could have led to contamination.

So far, there have been close to 200 drug samples from Washington, Ramsey and Dakota counties that have been sent from the St. Paul Crime Lab to the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to be retested. In at least one case, the BCA found the St. Paul lab gave a false positive. This resulted in the case being dismissed.

For those accused of crimes largely based on evidence collected and tested at a crime lab, the fact that there are even questions regarding the accuracy of the testing procedures and devices used can be very troubling.

Issues surrounding evidence is one of the many reasons someone facing drug-related crimes should contact a criminal defense attorney.

Source: Pioneer Press, "St. Paul crime lab: More court hearing will look at drug evidence," Marino Eccher, Feb. 22, 2013

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