Pubdate: Sun, 16 Jul 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Michelle Malkin
Page: 17


Junk science endangers lives. Forensic junk science in the hands of
overzealous prosecutors, ignorant police detectives and reckless
experts threatens liberty.

There is a crisis in America's government-run crime labs - and it's
not just the result of a few rogue operators. The problem is
long-festering and systemic.

In April, Massachusetts state crime lab chemist Annie Dookhan made
national headlines after investigations and lawsuits over her
misconduct prompted the state's Supreme Judicial Court to order the
largest dismissal of criminal convictions in U.S. history.

Prosecutors were forced to dismiss a stunning 21,000 plus drug cases
after Dookhan admitted to forging signatures, misleading investigators
and purposely contaminating drug samples en masse over nearly a
decade. Dookhan pleaded guilty to dozens of charges of obstruction of
justice, perjury and tampering with evidence. Hundreds of defendants
have had their convictions tossed on appeal.

Despite a district judge concluding that her actions were "nothing
short of catastrophic," Dookhan served a measly three medical
examiner's office and Nassau County, N.Y.'s police department forensic
evidence bureau to the crime labs of West Virginia, Harris County,
Texas, North Carolina and jurisdictions in nearly 20 other states.

It's the wrongfully prosecuted and convicted who suffer the heaviest
deprivations - and taxpayers who must foot the astronomical bill for
all the costs and damages incurred by crime lab corruptocrats and
their enablers.

As I've been chronicling in my newspaper columns and
investigative reports, many state crime labs and police departments
are particularly ill-equipped and inadequately trained to interpret
DNA evidence, especially "touch" or "trace" DNA - minute amounts of
DNA of unknown origin often transferred through incidental contact -
which has resulted in monstrous miscarriages of justice against
innocent people.

The aura of infallibility conferred on crime lab analysts by
"CSI"-style TV shows exacerbates the problem when juries place undue
weight on indeterminate DNA evidence of little to no probative value.
Just last week, North Carolina's Mark Carver, who was convicted of
murdering a college student based on dubious touch DNA that was likely
the result of investigators' contamination, won a new court date for a
hearing that may set him free.

Costly errors and gross misconduct will continue as long as
politicized prosecutors operate with a "win at all costs" agenda and
stubbornly refuse to admit their failures. Dark history seems to
repeating itself at the Oklahoma City Police Department, home of the
late forensic faker Joyce Gilchrist. Known as "Black Magic," Gilchrist
conjured mountains of phony DNA evidence out of whole cloth in
collaboration with an out-of-control district attorney over two
ruinous decades.

Gilchrist, whose tainted testimony sent 11 inmates to their deaths,
passed away two years ago unpunished and unrepentant.

Now, nearly a quarter-century after Gilchrist's misconduct was first
exposed, Oklahoma City has been rocked by secret hearings held two
weeks ago in the case of former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel
Holtzclaw. He was convicted in 2015 on multiple sexual assaults after
being railroaded by incompetent and biased police detectives and a
DA's office more concerned about appeasing the social justice mob than
seeking the truth.

My investigation of Holtzclaw's case helped publicize the flawed,
sloppy testimony by OCPD crime lab analyst Elaine Taylor and assistant
district attorney Gayland Gieger, who misled jurors with false
assertions about trace skin cell DNA tied to one accuser found on
Holtzclaw's pants - the only indirect forensic evidence in the case.
One of the key attendees at the secret hearings last month was
Taylor's OCPD crime lab supervisor, Campbell Ruddock.

Taylor and Gieger failed to fully inform the jury of unknown male DNA
found on Holtzclaw's pants, as well as DNA mixtures from multiple
unknown female and male contributors, which clearly supported the
hypothesis of innocent, nonsexual DNA indirect transfer. But Gieger
baselessly claimed the DNA came from vaginal fluid (when Taylor
conducted no such confirmatory tests for body fluids nor used an
alternate light source). Gieger recklessly yoked the phony DNA
"smoking gun" in one accuser's case to all of the accusers'
allegations. At least two jurors publicly stated after trial that the
shoddy DNA evidence persuaded them of Holtzclaw's collective guilt.

Secrecy about the crime lab crisis is a toxic recipe for more wrongful
convictions. The solution lies in greater transparency, external
scrutiny, stiffer criminal penalties and real financial consequences
for forensic fraudsters and fakers. It's time to incentivize more
whistleblowers, instead of more destructive witch hunts.
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