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New York County Forensic Lab Closed Down

While charges of a cover-up is cer­tainly very seri­ous, it seems a bit of an over-kill to shut down the entire lab based on poten­tial errors just in the drug chem­istry section.

Some 9,000 drug cases from 2007 to 2010 at the Nassau County Crime Lab are under review, with evi­dence in some cases being retested for accu­racy, said Nassau County, N.Y. District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Lab super­vi­sors are being inves­ti­gated for a pos­si­ble cover-up because they knew about trou­ble in the drug-testing sec­tion in September 2010, Rice said. That was three months before release of a report by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors that trig­gered the probe and put the lab on probation.

“In light of the infor­ma­tion about the super­vi­sors, I requested the County Executive imme­di­ately shut down all sec­tions of the crime lab until our review is com­plete,” Rice said.

The shut-down is a “pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure,” she said.

So far six cases involv­ing the drugs Ecstasy and Ketamine were tested incor­rectly, and the defen­dants were not charged prop­erly, Rice said.

Some were charged with felonies when they should have been charged with mis­de­meanors, she said.

Other peo­ple now impris­oned could “pos­si­bly” see their con­vic­tions over­turned, Rice said.

So far, 16 attor­neys have filed motions in court for their clients chal­leng­ing the evi­dence in their cases.

Defense attor­ney Vincent Trimarco Jr. of Smithtown, N.Y., said he was look­ing at his cases to see if he should make any motions.

“Maybe a client took a plea based on evi­dence he believed was fac­tual, but if that evi­dence was not tested prop­erly maybe he should not have plead guilty,” Trimarco said.

Rice said the shut­down would not affect cur­rent court cases in Nassau County, just east of New York City on Long Island.

I love the com­ment that some peo­ple were charged with felonies, when they should have been charge with mis­de­meanors. There is a huge dif­fer­ence between the two.

Originally posted on Reuters.

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