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FORENSIC MISADVENTURES 
This is an archive of cases involving demonstrable forensic misadventure. That is, it is an archive of cases where forensic and law enforcement experts have provided false / erroneous testimony, or false / erroneous findings, with serious consequences. Sometimes this occurs out of ignorance and sometimes it occurs by accident from those who know better. And sometimes what appears to be accidental at first is in fact a successfully concealed fraud - as over the years investigation and litigation have revealed a more disturbing truth about some analysts "misadventures". Regardless, in some cases, this will have resulted in apologies, disciplinary action or termination.  

This archive is maintained solely for educational and informational purposes. It serves to educate professionals and the public regarding the fallibility of evidence, and the forensic personnel charged with its collection, storage, examination, and interpretation. It should be noted that not all errors are necessarily equal - some are committed out of ignorance, some out of carelessness, and others may even be malicious or intentional. Establishing which is the case should be paramount in the aftermath of any error. 

No confidential case material has been or will be archived in this section. 

We currently have a further back-log of cases to add to this archive. This will be done as time permits. Updates are ongoing. Please feel free to submit additional cases, materials or corrections to info@forensic-science.com.


Etiam capillus unus habet umbram. ~ Even one hair has a shadow.
- Publilius Syrus

Expert, Case, or Lab

Misadventure

Sources & Further Information


Dr. Kenneth Ackles
Marion County Coroner, Indiana



Money stolen from bodies, bodies cremated without family permission, and police not notified of identifications. This elected coroner is also being investigated by the prosecutor's office for crimes relating to "mismanagement of bodies, records and property."

The state stopped paying him when Dr. Ackles, a chiropractor, failed a new state mandated training course. He is suing for back pay.


"Coroner IDs Body, But Family And Police Unaware For Weeks," TheIndychannel.com, September 13, 2006

"Former Deputy Coroner: Theft From Corpse Reported Year Ago," TheIndychannel.com, September 13, 2006

"Evidence, Cash Allegedly Unsecured In Coroner's Office," TheIndychannel.com, November 30, 2006

Elliot, P. "Coroner sues amidst investigation," WISH-TV8, August 26, 2008

Editorial "Keep standards high, turn job over to professionals," IndyStar.com, August 28, 2008



Arkansas State Crime Lab - Hope, AR
Mitchell Scott Johnson case


Substance found in the pocket of defendant Mitchell Scott Johnson was tested for marijuana. According to the testimony of Gary Dallas, chief forensic chemist, the original result was positive for marijuana but a clerical error reflected a negative result. Another test was performed which was positive for marijuana.


Williams, W. "Jonesboro school shooter free after seven years" MSNBC, August 11, 2005

"Man Convicted in 1998 Arkansas School Shooting Faces New Trial," Fox News , January 28, 2008

Gambrell, J. "Chemist: Test Error in Ark. Shooter Case," ABC-7 News , January 29, 2008

Wood, R. "Jury Convicts Jonesboro Shooter On Federal Gun, Drug Charge," The Morning News , January 29, 2008


Broward County Crime Lab, Florida


Biological material from an unrelated rape was inadvertently confused with DNA from the murder of Michael Sortal. This "glitch" forced prosecutors to drop murder charges against Kevin Hoffman.


McMahon, P. "CRIME LAB BOTCHES MURDER INQUIRY; PROSECUTORS MUST DROP CHARGES AFTER DNA EVIDENCE IS CONTAMINATED," Sun-Sentinel, June 24, 2003,  Pg. 1A

DeVise, D. "High-stakes error prompts Broward crime lab to improve accuracy in DNA testing," Miami Herald, October 06, 2003


Dr. Homer Campbell
Board Certified Forensic Odontologist
Office of the Medical Investigator, New Mexico
bio: http://omi.unm.edu/bios.html


In one case, Dr. Campbell claimed to identify to a medical certainty the body of Melody Cutlip; the real Melody Cutlip was later found alive and well in Florida.

Dr. Campbell has also testified beyond the limits of acceptable science in his field, stating in court that bite marks matched to a reasonable degree of medical or dental certainty.

Bio: Dr. Campell is an active member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and also a past president.


David Wayne Spence v. Gary L. Johnson, Nos. 94-20212, 94-20213. United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, March 29, 1996

Snyder, J. "HOW MANY INNOCENT PEOPLE DID HE EXECUTE? THE TEXAS DEATH PENALTY UNDER GOVERNOR GEORGE W. BUSH" Copyright 2003

Taken from  A State of Denial: Texas Justice and the Death Penalty by the Texas Defender Service, Ch. 3 - "A Danger to Society: Fooling the Jury with Phony Experts"

According to a study which conducted a lit review re: the uniqueness issue for bitemark evidence:

"The article determined that the dentition is unique; however, when this paper is cited, authors often extend this conclusion to incorporate the uniqueness of bitemarks. The question of bitemark uniqueness remains unanswered.

...

4. Care must be taken when expressing certainty, especially with regard to the product rule

5. Forensic dentistry requires more research to investigate bitemark accuracy and reliability"


Dr. Joye M. Carter 
Medical Examiner

Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, TX

A former pathologist for her office was awarded $250,000 in federal court after a jury found that she had been fired by Carter in 1998 because she reported that an unlicensed physician in the office had been allowed to perform autopsies.

A former DNA lab director was fired in 1996 by Carter for speaking out about abuses in the office. She sued and won a $315,000 judgment against Harris County.

 


FLYNN, G. "Ex-county lab director wins lawsuit Fired worker spoke of office flaws," Houston Chronicle, February 2, 1998

TEDFORD, D. "Whistle-blower gets $250,000 judgment," Houston Chronicle, April 7, 2000

Legal review of examiner's office sought

Dr. Joye M. Carter - Bio

According to one source: "Dr. Carter has been in the news many times before. She was fined and almost lost her license in 2001 for allowing an unlicensed pathologist to perform autopsies. In 1998 her office was accused of tampering with evidence in the murder of a 12-year old girl. That same year she admitted that bodies were sometimes stacked on top of each other at her morgue. She's been sued (and lost)  twice by whistleblowers who were fired for trying to expose corruption in the Harris County Medical Examiner's office."


Mary Childs-Henry
Forensic Scientist, Houston Police Department crime lab


Failed to report evidence that could have helped defendants and made errors in DNA and serology tests.


Lise Olsen & Roma Khanna "DNA lab analysts unqualified: Review finds education, training lacking," Houston Chronicle, September 7, 2003

Roma Khanna "HPD analysts avoided serious penalty before: 3 suspended at the crime lab had earlier rebukes reduced on appeal," Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2006

Roma Khanna "Houston Analysts Suspended At Crime Lab," Houston Chronicle, January 9, 2006


Joseph H. Chu
Forensic Scientist, Houston Police Crime Laboratory


According to reports, Mr. Chu failed to analyze all of the evidence available to him in Jorge Villanueva's death penalty trial. While bloodstains were reported on four different types of shoes, Mr. Chu tested only one.

HPD Crime Lab archive, Houston Chronicle

HPD - Discipline in HPD Crime Lab Investigation, memo, June 12, 2003

"9 Employees Disciplined Over DNA Lab," Click2Houston.com,  June 12, 2003

Roma Khanna & Steve McVicker, "2 HPD crime examiners’ major errors enumerated," Houston Chronicle, June 13, 2003 

"Suspensions of analysts in HPD crime lab rescinded," Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 2003 

"HPD DNA Analysts Speak Publicly About Lab: Facility Run By Unqualified Manager, Out-Of-Date Technology," Click2Houston.com,  Sept. 24, 2003

Roma Khanna  "Lab workers' penalties reduced: Written reprimands replace suspensions," Houston Chronicle, Sept. 25, 2003 

"Grand Jury: HPD Crime Lab Should Be Embarrassed," Click2Houston.com, Oct. 17, 2003

"Lawmakers Hold Hearing Over Crime Lab Mistakes," Click2Houston.com, Nov. 7, 2003

Roma Khanna "Analyst decision assailed," Houston Chronicle, January 30, 2004 

Roma Khanna "HPD analysts avoided serious penalty before: 3 suspended at the crime lab had earlier rebukes reduced on appeal," Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2006


Raynard Cockrell
Forensic Scientist, Houston Police Department crime lab


Failed to report evidence that could have helped defendants and made errors in DNA and serology tests.


Roma Khanna "HPD analysts avoided serious penalty before: 3 suspended at the crime lab had earlier rebukes reduced on appeal," Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2006

Roma Khanna "Houston Analysts Suspended At Crime Lab," Houston Chronicle, January 9, 2006


Stephan Cowans case
mistaken fingerprint ID
Boston Police Department


Released after 7 years in prison for shooting a police officer when prosecutors learned that the fingerprint found on a glass used at his trial actually belonged to someone else. DNA tests on clothing left near the crime scene and on a saliva from the glass did not match Mr. Cowans. Independent experts them re-examined the fingerprint ID and revealed the error.

Emory, T. "Boston man freed after prosecution acknowledges using mismatched fingerprint," Associated Press, January 23, 2004

Emory, T. "Man convicted in shooting of police officer freed," Associated Press, January 23, 2004

Emory, T. "Inmate freed over wrong fingerprint," Associated Press, January 24, 2004

Editorial "Police fingerprints," The Boston Globe, January 27, 2004

Mnookin, J. "A blow to the credibility of fingerprint evidence," The Boston Globe, February 2, 2004


Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office
mistaken fingerprint ID
Boston Police Department


Coroner's Office lost the alleged weapon in a murder case and failed to notify the prosecution. Even when investigators showed up to examine it for themselves. Ultimately, the defendant was allowed to plea to voluntary manslaughter - down from murder.

Left: Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank P. Miller III testifies in Ashland Municipal Court during a hearing to dismiss murder charges against Scott B. Brentlinger.


Oslin, I. "Cuyahoga error concealed / Coroner's office failed to notify Ashland evidence lost in murder case; defense attorney seeks dismissal of charges against Scott B. Brentlinger" Ashland Times Gazette, April 16, 2008.

Dr. Park E. Dietz, MD
Forensic Psychiatrist
Park Dietz & Associates


Testified in TX v. Andrea Yates that Yates was inspired by an episode of law and order, showing planning and state of mind. The episode never actually aired.

This opinion of Dietz's was mentioned in the prosecutor's closing arguments. According to published reports:

"Andrea Yates' capital murder convictions for drowning her children were overturned ... by an appeals court, which ruled that a prosecution witness' erroneous testimony about a nonexistent TV episode could have been crucial."


"Judge overturns Andrea Yates' murder convictions ," Associated Press, January 6, 2005

"Controversial Psychiatrist in Yates Case Speaks Out ," ABC News, January 7, 2005

Gold, S. "Yates Case Turns on Trial Error ," LA Times, January 7, 2005

Gold, S. & Gottlieb, J. "Defense Derides Psychiatrist as a Witness-for-Hire," LA Times, January 7, 2005

Graczyk, M. "E-mail sparked Yates trial error ," Associated Press, January 7, 2005

Steinhaus, R. "Witness at heart of Yates' appeal explains error ," Petersburg Times, January 7, 2005

Stern, E. "Case re-visited in wake of false testimony ," nePsych.com, February, 2005

Hausman, K. "Inaccurate Expert Testimony Wins Yates New Trial ," Psychiatric News February 4, 2005; Volume 40 Number 3; p. 4

Tolson, M. "Yates can't outline false testimony in trial record ," Houston Chronicle, February 25, 2005

Tilghman, A. "Appeals court won't review its Yates ruling ," Houston Chronicle, April 8, 2005



Paul Dougherty

Firearms expert, AFTE, CAC

Censured by the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE) after four years of internal proceedings. Gave testimony that was "intellectually dishonest".

SHERRI M. OKAMOTO "Court Upholds Censure of Forensic Expert Over ‘Ludicrous’ Testimony," Metropolitan News-Enterprise, July 30, 2008

Dougherty v. Haag et al.

Dougherty v. Haag (Cal. Ct. App. - July 28, 2008) - discussion.


Dr. Richard O. Eicher
fmr Pinellas-Pasco Asst. Medical Examiner, FL

Determined the wrong cause and manner of death in seven autopsies over an eight month period. 151 cases under review. He resigned.

Example: "He was found dead in bed with a plastic bag over his head," [Pinellas-Pasco Asst. Medical Examiner Joan] Wood said. "For some reason I do not know, (Eicher) thought it was heart disease."


Tobin, T. "The medical examiner says new facts have emerged about work done by a doctor who quit last month," Petersburg Times, April 13, 2000

Meinhardt, J. "Worker botched seven autopsies: 151 AUTOPSIES RECHECKED: The mistakes have resulted in an exhumation and a new death investigation by police," Associated Press, June 24, 2000


Bruce Ivans
Federal Bureau of Investigation 
"Anthrax Killer"

FBI investigation of the Anthrax killings first incorrectly identifies Steven Hatfill as a suspect, then US Army microbiologist Bruce Ivans. Ivans killed himself in July of 2008, after the FBI spent  four years building a case against him. The FBI admits to destroying evidence samples they shouldn't have in the case.

"Report: Anthrax evidence 'cirmcumstantial'" UPI, August 4, 2008

Calabresi, M. & Ripley, A. "How Solid Is the Anthrax Evidence?" Time, August 5, 2008

Conrey, C. "FBI reveals Ivins' evidence in anthrax case," Washington Times, August 6, 2008

Cole, L. "Cole: Questionable actions by FBI in anthrax probe," The Record, August 8, 2008

Frieden, T. "FBI: Ivins became focus of anthrax probe in 2004," CNN, August 19, 2008

Frieden, T. "FBI admits error but stands by anthrax probe," CNN, August 19, 2008


Russell Gesah
Russell Gesah case 
Victoria Police, Forensic Services Department - Macleod,
Australia 

Russell John Gesah was been charged with the 1984 murders of Melbourne woman Margaret Tapp and her daughter Seana. Charges were withdrawn when cross-contamination of DNA samples was found. 7000 cases are now under review, and various agencies are blaming each other for the errors of an unnamed forensic scientist.

 


Gregory, P., Baker, R. & Arup, T. "DNA blunder sinks kill trial," WA Today, August 6, 2008

"DNA bungle prompts review of Vic cases," SBS World News, August 6, 2008

"Australia Police Reopen 7,000 Cases After DNA Error," ABC News, August 7, 2008

"Vic police back DNA processes," Sydney Morning Herald, August 7, 2008

Skeene, K. "Ayr man cleared of rape, murder after police admit bungle," The Townsville Bulletin, August 7, 2008


Georgia Bureau of Investigation 
Crime Lab

Fingerprints lifted from the crime scene of the October 2005 murder of Regan Wheeler identified Dexter Presnell.

Just before the trial, GBI officials said a Crime Lab print examiner used the wrong prints - because he opened the wrong file for comparison on his computer.


"Murder Charges Dropped for Suspect Due to GBI Fingerprint Error," MyFox Atlanta, May 6, 2008

Garner, M. "GBI admits fingerprint error in murder case," Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 7, 2008


Terry Green
Senior Fingerprint Examiner
FBI Crime Lab
The Brandon Mayfield case

Senior FBI fingerprint examiner Terry Green made a fingerprint identification which caused the arrest of an innocent man, Brandon Mayfield. Terry Green described the match as "100%", finding 15 points of agreement. Mr. Green's supervisor, Michael Wieners, and retired FBI fingerprint examiner John Massey also verified the fingerprint match.

However, Spanish authorities questioned the quality of the FBI's determination. Spanish forensic experts were the first to discover the FBI crime lab's error and confront them with it. The FBI soon came to admit its error.


"FBI's Brandon Mayfield Case Timeline," KATU, May 24, 2004

Bernton, H. & Heath, D. "FBI admits fingerprint error, clearing Portland attorney," Seattle Times, May 25, 2004

"Madrid Probe Lawyer Freed after FBI Fingerprint Blunder," News Scotsman, May 25, 2004

"FBI used digital copy of print to finger wrong man in blasts," The New York Times, May 26, 2004

"Spain questioned FBI print match," The New York Times, May 26, 2004

Murphy, T. "‘100 percent’ wrong: How the FBI’s arrest of suspected terrorist Brandon Mayfield unraveled," The Portland Tribune, May 28, 2004

"The Wrong Man: Brandon Mayfield speaks out on a badly botched arrest," Newsweek, June 7, 2004


Dr. James Grigson
Forensic Psychiatrist
aka - "Dr. Death"
Texas

"When Dr. Grigson speaks to a lay jury . . . the defendant should stop what he is then doing and commence writing out his last will and testament because he will in all probability soon be ordered by the trial judge to suffer a premature death."

-Fmr. CCA Judge Marvin Teague


On July 9, 1995, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians expelled Dr. Grigson for ethics violations. He had been reprimanded by the APA twice previously.

A statement issued by the APA in 1995 explained that Dr. Grigson violated the organization's ethics code by "arriving at a psychiatric diagnosis without first having examined the individuals in question, and for indicating, while testifying in court as an expert witness, that he could predict with 100 per cent certainty that the individuals would engage in
future violent acts".

The Supreme Court has overturned at least six cases where Grigson violated capital murder defendants’ rights by not telling them that information disclosed could be used against them.

In the case of Randall Dale Adams, Dr. Grigson testified that a man was a psychopath and a degenerate; the man was later exonerated of committing actual crime. Dr. Grigson testified at Adams's 1977 trial that the defendant had a "sociopathic personality disorder" and that "there is no question in my mind that Adams is guilty."


Bell, L. "GROUPS EXPEL TEXAS PSYCHIATRIST KNOWN FOR MURDER CASES: Witness nicknamed 'Dr. Death' says license won't be affected by allegations," Dallas Morning News, July 26, 1995

A State of Denial: Texas Justice and the Death Penalty by the Texas Defender Service, Ch. 3 - "A Danger to Society: Fooling the Jury with Phony Experts"

INTRODUCTION TO THE EIGHTH AMENDMENT

John H. Blume & Mark E. Olive "AN OVERVIEW OF CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES RELEVANT TO CAPITAL CASES"

"The Wrong Man," The Atlantic, November, 1999

"David Martin Long Scheduled to be Executed," Press Release, Texas Office of the Attorney General, December 7, 1999

Flawed trials lead to death chamber - Bush confident in system rife with problems," Chicago Tribune, June 11, 2000

"Circuit court throws out death sentence," The Associated Press, April 6, 2001

Delfs, E. "Hired Gun: Does Money or Bias Taint Your Expert?" The Forensic Echo, Volume 2, Issue 1 -- Published: Monday, Dec 1, 1997 -- Last Updated: Monday, Mar 11, 2002

"Doctor's diagnosis was nearly fatal," Northwestern University School of Law, Center on Wrongful Convictions, December, 2002

Getz, J. & Tharp, R. "Forensic psychiatrist done taking stand," The Dallas Morning News, December 05, 2003

Aynesworth, H. "TEXAS "DR. DEATH" RETIRES AFTER 167 CAPITAL CASE TRIALS," The Washington Times, December 22, 2003


Dr. Elliott Gross 
former assistant Medical Examiner, Atlantic County

Medical Examiner, Cape May & Cumberland Counties

Mistook a heart condition for asphyxiation which led to an innocent man being charged with homicide, when the death was actually natural causes. The 67 year old has been banned from performing autopsies without state supervision.

Curran, J. "Coroner's flawed report shatters policeman's life," Associated Press, January 19, 2003

"N.J. Disciplines Coroner for Bad Autopsy," Associated Press, February 25, 2003


Kathleen Hatfield case
mistaken fingerprint ID by Las Vegas Police Department

Mistaken fingerprint ID by Las Vegas Police Department leads to woman's family being notified that she is dead as the result of a homicide; she turned up alive five weeks later.

Coit, M. "Santa Rosa woman identified as Vegas slaying victim turns up alive," The Press Democrat, September 13, 2002

Dr. Stephen Hayne
fmr Medical Examiner, Mississippi

After calls for his removal by the Innocence Project (owing to incompetence, lack of board certification, impossible workloads, erroneous testimony, and his involvement in wrongful convictions) the Public Safety Commissioner confirmed that Dr. Hayne's contract was being severed --- "because Mississippi has more money to upgrade the state medical examiner’s office by hiring full-time, board-certified doctors to perform autopsies and gather criminal evidence." 

In at least one case, he incorrectly ID'd animal predation as human bite mark evidence.


Balko, R. "Faulty Forensic 'Experts' Sending the Innocent to Jail" Fox News, August 3, 2007

 

Balko, R. "Innocence Project Calls for Investigation Into Dr. Hayne" Reason, Feb. 14, 2008

 

Mitchell, J. "Innocence Project letter blasts Steven Hayne's work" The Clarion Ledger, Feb. 14, 2008

 

Balko, R. "The Bite-Marks Men: Mississippi's criminal forensics disaster" Slate, Feb. 20, 2008

 

Byrd, S. "Miss. Bite-Mark Testimony Disputed" AP, Feb. 29, 2008

Apel, T. "Legal experts ponder fallout of Hayne firing," The Daily Leader, August 6, 2008

Coffey, J. "Mississippi to stop using part-time medical examiner Hayne," The Commercial Dispatch, August 6, 2008


Melvin Hett
former Criminalist, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation

Misidentified hairs led to a wrongful conviction in a death penalty case. Lab notes indicated that another OSBI criminalist excluded the defendants. DNA tests cleared both men originally convicted. Whether or not this was intentional fraud by Hett or the OSBI is a matter of much debate - and a lawsuit.

Baldwin, D. "Experts Disagreed on Hair Analysis," Daily Oklahoman, May 27, 2001

Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz - The Justice Project

Price, M. "Grisham asks Oklahoma federal court to dismiss libel lawsuit," Oklahoma City Journal Record, November 29, 2007


Ranae Houtz
fmr Forensic Serologist
Pennsylvania state police lab in Bethlehem

 


Pennsylvania state police have compiled a list of 615 criminal cases handled by a forensic scientist whose crime lab analysis has become
suspect.

She resigned after supervisors found errors in four of her cases.


Herbert, K. & Shields, J. "Troopers list cases possibly tainted A forensic scientist's work has been questioned," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 2003

Pappas, L.  "Focus sharpens on crime labs' work," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 23, 2003

Pappas, L. "Crime labs follow strict rules, but scientists can make errors," Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18, 2003

Roomy Varghese & Matt Assad, "Crime lab worker’s errors could affect cases; Bethlehem scientist’s mistakes," Allentown Morning Call, June 20, 2003, at A1

Herbert, K.  "Lawyer says evidence in '01 slaying was contaminated," Philadelphia Inquirer, January 13, 2004

Herbert, K.  "Ex-forensic scientist defends record," Philadelphia Inquirer, January 21, 2004


Kansas Bureau of Investigation - Crime Lab


Mislabeling of a blood sample in October 1991 contributed to a delay in identifying Douglas Belt as a suspect in several sex crimes. Belt went on to commit murder an rape. Had the sample not been mislabeled, Mr. Belt would have been arrested long before the other crimes were committed.


"KBI director apologizes for evidence mixup in suspect's DNA," Associated Press, June 5, 2003

"Kline orders KBI audit after error," The Capital Journal, June 5, 2003

Purinton, C. "KBI to be investigated," The Capital Journal, June 6, 2003

Milburn, J. "KBI director: Evidence mistake 'simple but serious'," Associated Press, June 6, 2003

Laviana, H. "KBI error a 'wake-up call' to lawyers," The Wichita Eagle, June 7, 2003

Noga, J. "Processing evidence," The Morning Sun, November 9, 2003


Kern County District Attorney's Crime Lab
California


Criminalist Jodi Kessler was given a written reprimand for handling blood evidence in case involving the death of a family friend, a police officer, in defiance of specific orders to refrain from involvement by superiors. Assistant District Attorney Dan Sparks removed the written reprimand from her file. 

Under oath, Kessler initially denied the existence of any reprimand. However, she had kept a copy of it. The court eventually ordered her to turn it over to the defense.

A month later, it was learned that the crime lab had unknowingly destroyed the blood sample before private testing could be performed.


Courtroom battles rage behind the scenes - Bakersfield Californian Blog; comments by Fred Gagliardini and Brent Turvey.

"Attorney questions criminologist's credibility, another attorney collapses," Bakersfield Californian, May 27, 2008

Maher, S. "DA's control of crime lab raises questions," Bakersfield Californian, July 25, 2008

Swenson, S. "Attorney questioning crime lab's credibility gets confidential document," Bakersfield Californian, July 28, 2008

Maher, S. "Blood evidence in death of deputy destroyed," Bakersfield Californian, August 21, 2008

"D.A. Crime Lab Loses Key Evidence in Deputy's Death," KGET-17, August 22, 2008

"Kern crime lab destroys blood evidence," Associated Press, August 22, 2008

Maher, S. "New problems in Kern deputy death trial," Bakersfield Californian, August 25, 2008

"New problems in Kern deputy death trial," Associated Press, August 26, 2008


Christi Y. Kim
Forensic Scientist, Houston Police Crime Laboratory


Mistakes by Ms. Kim included misrepresenting the statistical strength of DNA matches, failing to analyze all available evidence in a capital murder case and compiling sloppy paperwork.

HPD Crime Lab archive, Houston Chronicle

HPD - Discipline in HPD Crime Lab Investigation, memo, June 12, 2003

"9 Employees Disciplined Over DNA Lab," Click2Houston.com,  June 12, 2003

Roma Khanna & Steve McVicker, "2 HPD crime examiners’ major errors enumerated," Houston Chronicle, June 13, 2003 

"Suspensions of analysts in HPD crime lab rescinded," Houston Chronicle, Sept. 24, 2003 

"HPD DNA Analysts Speak Publicly About Lab: Facility Run By Unqualified Manager, Out-Of-Date Technology," Click2Houston.com,  Sept. 24, 2003

Roma Khanna  "Lab workers' penalties reduced: Written reprimands replace suspensions," Houston Chronicle, Sept. 25, 2003 

"Grand Jury: HPD Crime Lab Should Be Embarrassed," Click2Houston.com, Oct. 17, 2003

"Lawmakers Hold Hearing Over Crime Lab Mistakes," Click2Houston.com, Nov. 7, 2003

"Former HPD Crime Lab Worker To Appeal Firing: Ex-Police Chief Accused Analyst Of Sloppy Work, False Testimony," Click2Houston.com, January 27, 2004

Roma Khanna & Steve McVicker, "Fired DNA analyst to return to work at crime lab," Houston Chronicle, January 27, 2004 

Roma Khanna "Analyst decision assailed," Houston Chronicle, January 30, 2004 

Roma Khanna "HPD analysts avoided serious penalty before: 3 suspended at the crime lab had earlier rebukes reduced on appeal," Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2006


Edgar Koch
fmr Director, Baltimore Police Dept. Crime Laboratory


Terminated by the police department for  mismanagement that led to a DNA contamination scandal (did not maintain a database of lab employee DNA for exclusions, etc.) and other undisclosed "operational issues".

Julie Bykowicz & Justin Fenton "City crime lab director fired," Baltimore Sun, August 21, 2008

Goncalves, D. "Credibility of Crime Lab Questioned," ABC2News.com, August 21, 2008

Julie Bykowicz "Accrediting agency to review city crime laboratory," Baltimore Sun, August 27, 2008

Julie Bykowicz "Lab glitch hard to track: DNA unit chief skeptical on knowing the full problem," Baltimore Sun, August 28, 2008

Smitherman, L. "Groups protest DNA collection law," Baltimore Sun, September 6, 2008

Julie Bykowicz "Dubious science: Carelessness in crime lab procedures raises serious questions about evidence," Baltimore Sun, September 7, 2008


Donald Krueger
fmr Director, Houston Police Dept. Crime Laboratory

Terminated by HPD, but chose to retire instead. Applied for his retirement on Feb. 23. He did not adequately supervise the crime lab and establish policies following FBI guidelines.

HPD Crime Lab archive, Houston Chronicle

HPD - Discipline in HPD Crime Lab Investigation, memo, June 12, 2003

"9 Employees Disciplined Over DNA Lab," Click2Houston.com,  June 12, 2003

"Grand Jury: HPD Crime Lab Should Be Embarrassed," Click2Houston.com, Oct. 17, 2003

"Lawmakers Hold Hearing Over Crime Lab Mistakes," Click2Houston.com, Nov. 7, 2003

"Former HPD Crime Lab Worker To Appeal Firing: Ex-Police Chief Accused Analyst Of Sloppy Work, False Testimony," Click2Houston.com, January 27, 2004

Roma Khanna "HPD analysts avoided serious penalty before: 3 suspended at the crime lab had earlier rebukes reduced on appeal," Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2006


Charles Linch
Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences;
Senior Forensic Scientist, Virginia Division of Forensic Science


Used the term match in court regarding forensic hair analysis without sufficient qualification to prevent the prosecution from presenting it as conclusive in the  case against Michael Blair. Though Mr. Blair was convicted and sentenced to death, mitochondrial DNA tests later revealed that none of the hairs actually belonged to him.

In the case against Kenneth McDuff, Mr. Linch testified that he had examined the hair and found it to have the same microscopic characteristics as that of the missing victim. However, the State failed to reveal that at the time of his testimony, Mr. Linch was under committal to a Dallas mental hospital for psychiatric problems. According to Mr. Linch, one of his prescriptions caused a lack of recall of events. On the day of Mr. McDuff s trial, however, Mr. Linch was permitted to fly to San Antonio, rent a car, and drive to the courthouse to testify as a forensic expert. After giving his testimony, Mr. Linch returned to the mental hospital.


Taken from  A State of Denial: Texas Justice and the Death Penalty by the Texas Defender Service, Ch. 3 - "A Danger to Society: Fooling the Jury with Phony Experts"

Mark Wrolstad "Hair-matching flawed as a forensic science: DNA testing reveals dozens of wrongful verdicts nationwide," The Dallas Morning News, March 31, 2002

Frank Green "HAIR ANALYSIS USE FAULTED ; CRITICS SAY IT'S BAD WAY TO MAKE IDENTIFICATIONS ," Richmond Times-Dispatch ,  October 19, 2002

 



Prof. Elizabeth F. Loftus
UC-Irvine, Department of Psychology and Social Behavior


Under cross-examination in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial, Loftus agreed "that the methodology she had used at times in her long academic career was not that scientific, that her conclusions about memory were conflicting, and that she had exaggerated a figure and a statement from her survey of D.C. jurors that favored the defense."

There has also been a lawsuit regarding some of her research practices. 


Seidman, J. "Memory expert taken to task in Libby hearing" October 26, 2006 

"In the Libby Case, A Grilling to Remember" Friday, October 27, 2006; P. A21.

Apuzzo, M."Witness Interrogated in CIA Leak Case" FOXnews.com, October 27, 2006

"No memory expert for Libby trial: Judge called proposed key witness a 'waste of time'" CREW, November 3, 2006.

"Libby Can't Use Memory Expert In Trial" CBS News, November 3, 2006.

Mike McKee "Calif. High Court Weighs Whether Trickery OK in Research," The Recorder, December 11, 2006

KENNETH OFGANG "S.C. Abuse-Study Subject May Sue Prominent Psychologist" Metropolitan News-Enterprise, February 27, 2007; P. 1

Recovered Memory Case Study Suit re: Taus v. Loftus, 07 S.O.S. 962

Nicole TAUS v. Elizabeth LOFTUS et al., Supreme Court of California, No. S133805, Feb. 26, 2007.



Barry Logan, PhD
fmr Lab Director
Washington State Patrol Crime Lab


Resigned after it was determined by the court that he was engaged in concealing sloppy work habits and fraud with respect to DUI related testing.

In April of 2008, the WA State Forensic Investigations Council (FIC) wrote a report condemning the fraud of Logan's subordinates at the crime labe. However it would not hold Logan himself accountible, falling quite short of exonnerating him of fraud when stating: "We are not unmindful of the criticism of Dr. Logan by a number of judges in the above-cited opinions. However, everyone who supervises a large number of employees, which does not include the aforementioned judges, realizes that sometimes employees do not follow the rules, do not follow directives and do not follow the law. If this is done in a manner which is not readily apparent, the results can be disastrous. That is exactly what happened here. The captain of the ship ultimately is always responsible, but it does not mean that he was asleep at the helm or was complicit in the activities of the employee or employees." The FIC, comprised of appointees from the law enforcement community with a mandate to preserve and protect the lab, essentially ignored the judges findings of Logan's fraud and refused to hold Logan accountible for even his negligent conduct - hiring a fraud, failing to adeqautely supervise her, and requiring an anonymous tip to bring misconduct at the lab to his attention.


WA State Forensic Investigations Council

FIC Report - ficinvestigativeteport04-17-08

TRACY JOHNSON & DANIEL LATHROP "State lab manager quits after she's accused of signing false statements," Seattle Post Intelligencer, July 31, 2007

"Defense lawyer group calls for investigation of state crime lab," KOMO News, October 16, 2007

Sullivan, J. "Forensics Council asked to perform independent investigation of state crime lab," The Olympian, October 16, 2007

Sullivan, J. "Lawyers group urges forensic probe of state's toxicology and crime labs," Seattle Times, October 17, 2007

TRACY JOHNSON "State crime lab chief resigns after problems raised on DUI evidence: Director, who leaves in March, says problems now fixed," Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 14, 2008

Sullivan, J. "State crime-lab chief to resign," Seattle Times, February 15, 2008

Washington v. Ahmach, Sanafim, et al - details fraud by WSPCL personnel determined by a panel of judges. Filed January 30, 2008.


Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Sate of Massachusetts


Botched autopsies, lost bodies, mix-ups, and "over 100 corpses spilling out into the main hallway" with too little staff.


Tlumachi, J. "Autopsies overwhelm medical examiner staff" Boston Globe, March 15, 2007.

Johnson, G. "State police find body lost by medical examiner's office" Associated Press, May 5, 2007.

"Troubled Medical Examiner's Office Attempts Overhaul" WCVB-TV, May 21, 2008.


Detective Constable Shirley McKie case


Accused of planting evidence because of fingerprint evidence attributed to her by police fingerprint analysts. It took an international panel of fingerprint examiners to prove the police identification false. The original examiners still insist they weren't  wrong. 


The McKie case in short

"Internet makes mark on fingerprint case," BBC News, May 14, 1999

"Total Vindication for Shirley McKie!" BBC News, June 22, 2000

"Fingerprint experts 'making mistakes'," BBC News, October 23, 2000

Burrell, I. "Police expert questions the reliability of fingerprint evidence," The Independent, October 23, 2000

McDougall, L. "Scottish print bureau ‘still cannot be trusted’: Despite official praise independent expert damns continued bad practice," The Sunday Herald, March 20, 2005

McDougall, L. "Anger as McKie experts still verifying prints," The Sunday Herald, March 27, 2005

The prints.


Robin McLaughlin
fmr Virginia Division of Forensic Science


Gave overconfident findings to police regarding hair analysis - resulted in a wrongful arrest of Karl Roush. She resigned after her results were shown to be inaccurate.


"When a Lab Gets It Wrong,"  The Washington Post, June 15, 1997; Page C08 


Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension


DNA sample cross contamination in rape case reveals 5 similar incidents in the past year. 


Chanen, D. (2005) "Defense attorneys raise concerns about DNA sample mix-up" Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 20, 2005, Friday, Metro Edition, P. 1B

"BCA crime lab under the microscope" www.kstp.com, May 20, 2005


NYPD Crime Scene Unit
Deputy Inspector Gary Gomula & Capt. Michael Kletzel


Unit head has been replaced after external audit found extensive problems. From Gendar (2008): "A Manhattan Supreme Court justice declared a mistrial two weeks ago in the attempted- murder case of Cedric Rooks, accused of firing at six officers outside Manhattan's Taft Houses in September 2005.

Justice William Wetzel said the evidence collection was so compromised by decisions of the commanding officer of the crime scene unit, Deputy Inspector Gary Gomula, as to "suggest misconduct.""

See fraud archive for previous year's "dry-labbing" scandal involving the transfer of Deputy Chief Denis McCarthy, criminalist Elizabeth Mansour, and criminalist Rameschandra Patel.


Gendar, A., "High-profile cases are jeopardized by NYPD unit's lapses: sources," New York Daily News, February 3, 2008

Gendar, A., "Missing evidence, mistrial spark forensics overhaul," New York Daily News, April 30, 2008

Gendar, A., "New forensic guy's the most qualified, says Police Commisioner Kelly," New York Daily News, May 1, 2008

Marzulla, J., "CSI members: unit is falling apart," New York Daily News, May 3, 2008


Robert W. Parsons
Criminalist, Indian River Crime Lab, FL


Criminalist failed two proficiency exams resulting in the retesting of all cases handled by in the previous year.


Garcia, D. "Evidence from 189 drug cases will be reanalyzed," Scripps.com, November 10, 2006 - cited from a post archived publicly on forens-l, with commentary by Brent Turvey.

Explanation of errors and commentary by Robert W. Parsons, from a post archived at forensice-science@yahoogroups.com.


Phoenix Police Dept. Crime Lab


Phoenix police crime lab made errors in interpreting DNA evidence for nine cases. The errors, which dated back to August 2001, were made by technicians that miscalculated the likelihood that a person's DNA, or genetic material, was present on evidence.


Beth DeFalco, "Police Say Lab Made Errors Analyzing DNA," AP Online, May 5, 2003

Grant, M. "Horizon," KAETV, May 6, 2003

Miller, C. "Phoenix police lab errs on DNA," The Arizona Republic, May. 6, 2003 

Susan Carroll & Carol Sowers, "DNA Flaws Called Unlikely to Jeopardize Police," Arizona Republic, May 7, 2003, at 1B


Dr. Elizabeth Peacock
Travis County Deputy Medical Examiner 


Performed autopsies for 11 weeks with a delinquent license, including the autopsies on some of the immigrants found dead in an abandoned airtight trailer outside Houston on May 14, 2003. She was reprimanded.

Texas law provides that performing autopsies with a delinquent license is equivalent to practicing medicine without a license; it could be prosecuted as a felony.


"Report: Complaint filed against M.E. from immigrant autopsies," Associated Press, January 14, 2004

Rice, H. "Defense says lapsed license won't affect smuggling trial," Houston Chronicle, January 15, 2004

"Medical license stopped, but autopsies didn't: Travis County's deputy ME says she never received notice," Associated Press, January 16, 2004


Rosaura Rodriguez
Forensic Chemist, Houston Police Department crime lab


Misidentified a crack pipe in a drug case; case was subsequently dismissed for lack of evidence.


Lezon, D. "HPD lab chemist's error gets case tossed: She realized her testimony was inaccurate and told prosecutors," Houston Chronicle, April 13, 2006



Renee Romero
Lab Director, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division


Testified regarding DNA statistics in such a fashion as to mislead the jury and create a false impression regarding the probabilities involved in a DNA "match". Resulted in a reversal of conviction by the court of appeals.


Brown v. Farwell, (9th Cir. 2008 00:00:00) Federal Circuits, 9th Cir. (May 05, 2008) Docket number: 07-15592

Pearce, E. "Rape Conviction Overturned, DNA Expert Says Evidence Was Solid," KOLOTV, May 6, 2008

"Court overturns rape conviction," , May 7, 2008


Sarasota Police Department - FL

False positives in drug testing - Alleve tests positive for methamphetamine.

Cormier, A. "How Aleve tests positive for illegal drug," Herald Tribune, May 1, 2008.

"Illegal drug turns out to be Aleve," WWSB, May 3, 2008.


Joseph Serowik
fmr. Forensic Scientist, Cleveland Police Department Crime Lab

Failed to document test results; gave inaccurate and misleading testimony. Fired by the City of Cleveland for "following poor procedures".

Schultz, C. "City to pay $1.6 million for man's prison time," Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 8, 2004.

Schultz, C. "Another slap in face of justice," Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 2, 2004.

Sheeran, T. "Exoneration sought for two killers in crime lab review," AP, January 26, 2007.

Milicia, J. "Lab Audit: Cleveland Juries Not Misled," AP, February 17, 2007.


Milton C. Simmons
fmr Assistant Chief 
Houston Police Crime Laboratory

In charge of the Technical/Support Services Command from May 1993 until March 2003. The 36-year veteran retired after it was recommended that he be fired for failing to provide adequate supervision of the crime lab operations.

HPD Crime Lab archive, Houston Chronicle

HPD - Discipline in HPD Crime Lab Investigation, memo, June 12, 2003

"9 Employees Disciplined Over DNA Lab," Click2Houston.com,  June 12, 2003

"Grand Jury: HPD Crime Lab Should Be Embarrassed," Click2Houston.com, Oct. 17, 2003

"Lawmakers Hold Hearing Over Crime Lab Mistakes," Click2Houston.com, Nov. 7, 2003

"Former HPD Crime Lab Worker To Appeal Firing: Ex-Police Chief Accused Analyst Of Sloppy Work, False Testimony," Click2Houston.com, January 27, 2004

Roma Khanna "HPD analysts avoided serious penalty before: 3 suspended at the crime lab had earlier rebukes reduced on appeal," Houston Chronicle, January 8, 2006


Aaron Small
Forensic Scientist 
Illinois State Police crime lab

Mr. Small "committed what forensic scientists call an extraordinary error: contaminating a semen smear on a microscope slide by somehow transferring his own DNA into the evidence." He explained that he was not wearing gloves when he handled the evidence.

Ken Armstrong & Steve Mills, "DNA SAMPLE ERROR PUTS CASE ON LINE, LAB ON SPOT," Chicago Tribune, July 27, 1999

Lazaro Sotolusson case
DNA mislabeled by Las Vegas Metro Police Lab


Mr. Sotolusson's name was mistakenly placed on the DNA profile of another man by the crime lab in 2001. He was wrongly charged with at least two rapes that were dismissed after the error was detected.

After confirming the error, it was learned that forensics lab safeguards aimed at catching such mistakes failed; two police lab employees reviewed the findings and did not detect the error.


Puitt, G. "DNA EVIDENCE: Officials admit error, dismiss case - LV lab put wrong name on sample," Las Vegas Review Journal, April 18, 2002

Puitt, G. "Changes proposed in DNA handling: Mislabeled sample nearly sends wrong man to prison for life," Las Vegas Review Journal, May 15, 2002

Paul, K. "Audit calls for changes in police DNA lab," Las Vegas Sun, May 23, 2002

Puitt, G. "Man files lawsuit in false imprisonment: DNA lab mix-up left man in jail for a year," Las Vegas Review Journal, July 30, 2002


Det. Greg Tate
Anne Arundel County Police Department, MD


Admitted he "lied to the court in January [2008] when he said the county's crime lab matched the fingerprints of Raymond H. Jonassen to those left at the scene of a Dec. 6 burglary." He is still employed by the Anne Arundel County Police Department.


 

Daugherty, S. "Innocent man's jailing called 'honest mistake'," Capital Post Gazette, August 28, 2008

 

Latent Print Examination Report


Charles H. Vaughan
Forensic Scientist
Trace Evidence Unit
WA State Patrol Crime Lab
(25 year vet of the Oregon State Police crime lab)


Admitted during a deposition that he'd been demoted from Director to Assistant Director of Eugene Oregon State Police crime lab in 1993 for not disciplining an employee who was falsifying lab results.

Admitted during a deposition that he'd used the same ruler to scrape blood from the victim's and then the suspect's clothing for blood on the same day in the now infamous Boots & Proctor wrongful conviction case, resulting in cross-transfer. He also failed to wear gloves during either examination.

Failed a routine proficiency exam in September 1998, testing his ability to interpret footprint evidence.

Mistakenly linked hairs found at a Thurston County burglary to a suspect in 1998.


 

Teichrobe, R. "Oversight of crime-lab staff has often been lax," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 23, 2004

 

Teichrobe, R. "Forensic scientist in crime lab tied to wrongful convictions in Oregon," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 27, 2004

 

Teichrobe, R. "Scientist moved on after reversal," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 29, 2004



Dr. Michael West

Forensic Dentist
Mississippi 

Due to overconfident presentation of bite mark evidence in several court cases, ethics complaints were lodged with three forensic organizations that Dr. West was a member of; the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the American Board of Forensic Odontologists, and the International Association for Identification. Dr. West immediately resigned from two of the groups, rather than face investigation. The third group, the American Board of Forensic Odontology, his fellow dentists, suspended him for a year, saying he had testified beyond his expertise. He's since been reinstated.

His identification testimony has assisted with numerous wrongful convictions.


Carlos A. Campos, "Defense Questions Bite-Mark Evidence For Murder Case," New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jan. 9, 1993

 

Steve Cannizaro, "Murder Witness' Fairness Questioned," New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 10, 1996

 

John Stossel, "Junk Science: What You Know That May Not Be So Scientific-Theories That May Be Wrong," ABC News, Aug. 28, 1997

 

Andrew Murr, "A Dentist Takes the Stand," Newsweek, Aug. 20, 2001

 

Sotos "Expert Witness to Face Malicious Prosecution Suit," Chi. Daily L. Bull. 6, Jan. 16, 2003.  

 

Steven Kroft "Forensic evidence; skepticism surrounding Dr. Michael West's use of bite mark analysis in murder cases," 60 Minutes, Feb. 17, 2003

 

Balko, R. ""Indeed, and Without a Doubt": How a Mississippi dentist may be sending innocent people to jail." Reason, August 2, 2007

 

Balko, R. "Faulty Forensic 'Experts' Sending the Innocent to Jail" Fox News, August 3, 2007

 

Balko, R. "The Bite-Marks Men: Mississippi's criminal forensics disaster" Slate, Feb. 20, 2008

 

CHRIS FRANCESCANI & MARCUS BARAM "Did 'Bite Mark' Expert Fabricate Evidence?" ABC News Law & Justice Unit, Feb. 20, 2008

 

Byrd, S. "Miss. Bite-Mark Testimony Disputed" AP, Feb. 29, 2008


Joan Wood testifying in a trial.

Dr. Joan Wood
fmr Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner


According to reports, she made "made big mistakes in her autopsy reports, sending David Long and John Peel to prison, wrongly charged with shaking their own babies to death."

She resigned amidst accusations of errors and incompetence in a case involving the Church of Scientology, as well as the cases of Dr. Richard O. Eicher described above.


Levesque, W. "Pinellas-Pasco Medical examiner retires," St. Petersburg Times, June 29, 2000  

"Another man jailed because of medical examiner's mistake," ABC Action News, November 23, 2002

"Attorney: Action News report helped King win stay of execution," ABC Action News, December 3, 2002

Levesque, W. "Ex-medical examiner unable to testify: Joan Wood has resurfaced, but says stress prevents her from appearing in court about several murder cases," St. Petersburg Times, August 23, 2002

Archive of articles: 
MEDICAL EXAMINER JOAN WOOD


Sujatha Yarlagadda
Forensic Scientist, Houston Police Department crime lab


Suspended indefinitely after being investigated for cheating on a proficiency exam.


"Investigation Into Crime Lab Proficiency Test Completed," City of Houston Press Release, January 25, 2006

Desel, J. "Cheating scandal shuts down crime lab's DNA section," KHOU.com, January 25, 2008

Roma Khanna "HPD crime lab soon to resume DNA testing / New hire means department is now in compliance with state law," Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2008


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