“Positive test results link defendant to crime”. “Drugs tested positive”. “The DNA was a match”. “We got our man”.
We’ve heard it, over and over again. Yet, in the past few years and as recently as today, we learn that many of our so-called crime labs are where crimes take place. In other words, where test results and evidence are phony and are used as evidence to convict people, some of whom are actually innocent.
Hard to believe, but true. For example, a chemist in a Massachusetts police lab has pleaded guilty to forging paperwork, faking drug test results, mixing samples and mishandling samples of evidence. The chemist handled over 60,000 samples. That’s right – sixty thousand samples! How many innocent people entered pleas of guilty or nolo contendere (or “no contest”) believing that they could not overcome the “scientific evidence” the prosecution had against them?
Earlier this year, the Texas Department of Public Safety discovered that their lab falsified test results in cases from 36 Texas counties since 2006 after examining evidence in over 5,000 cases. Innocent people were convicted and sentenced to years in prison. The lab manager wrote, ”We are sorry for any inconvenience”. Incredible!
Crime labs throughout the United States – including the “respected” FBI Crime Lab have been implicated in the unthinkable scandals. Just to name some confirmed examples, crime labs have been closed, employees (often not scientists) have been arrested, convicted, fired and forced to resign, and convictions overturned in Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, Colorado, Texas, Michigan, California, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin. And, yes, even the FBI lab and the U.S. Army crime lab, both Federal laboratories.
Fingerprint evidence was forged in criminal cases in New York and evidence was “fabricated” in drug and organized cases.
How can this be? How can this fraud and the resulting injustice happen all over our great country, year after year? Why does “law enforcement” authorities allow this to happen. and routinely look the other way? It’s because the cops, agents and prosecutors want to win their cases. Guilt or innocence doesn’t seem to matter to too many of the people that we entrust law enforcement to. It is, and has always been a national disgrace. Sadly, many judges don’t seem to care; they often render decisions to justify or call the clear prosecutorial misconduct “harmless error”. So, the police and Federal agents continue to violate our Constitutional rights, they usually get away with it.
So, what is the answer? Simple: elect Democrats as governors, senators and as our President who will appoint judges and Supreme Court justices who respect and will enforce our Constitutional rights. The recent Senate vote to allow a simple majority vote for approval of judicial appointees will be a major step in the right direction, at least for the next three years. The vote was the only way to get judges appointed to our Federal district and appellate courts since the Republicans blocked almost all of President Obama’s nominees to our Federal courts. No more! The benefits will be felt for years to come.