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Once again, forensic lab work is under a cloud

Proven criminal defense attorneys in Colorado and across the country are never surprised upon hearing stories of less-than-accurate work being uncovered in DNA testing labs in the various states.

And they don't feel vindicated in any "see, I told you so" manner when results leak into the public that irregularities at a laboratory -- unsound scientific techniques being practiced, sample contamination, untrained technicians and so forth -- may have or unquestionably did lead to wrongful convictions for criminal defendants in cases alleging sex crimes, drunk driving and additional matters.

If anything, they feel a most fatalistic concern, a kind of resignation that, given the inherent subjectivity that pervades law enforcement and routinely leads to documented cases of human error, stories regarding forensic-related mistakes will steadily emerge in news outlets nationally.

That is, there will always be questions in select cases concerning the degree to which lab-based mistakes influenced outcomes that put innocent people behind bars.

The long trail of lab-tainted stories continues currently with national news reports concerning the recent suspension of a long-time DNA lab director in one metropolitan area following a probe into her domain that uncovered several material concerns.

One of those centered on what the Washington Post terms "the use of outdated methods to calculate the individuality of profiles." Put in simpler terms, that points to investigators' concerns regarding the likelihood that examined DNA might have come from an individual not being criminally prosecuted.

Another concern: The suspended individual was a long-tenured auditor of laboratories across the country, with her signature attesting to quality work being done in their work environments. One of the labs she signed off on was closed down recently after inspectors there discovered problems that raised serious concerns, including tainted evidence.

Alleged accuracy in DNA testing results is precisely what it is purported to be, namely, alleged.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will view it in just that manner and ensure that it is thoroughly examined in any case where it is sought to be introduced as evidence against a client in a criminal law matter.

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