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Providing criminal defense services to
clients throughout the East Bay and
its surrounding areas.

The operation of some crime labs is a crime

Television, as usual, creates impressions that can be undercut by reality. Crime labs and crime investigations, for instance, where programs like CSI lead one to believe that police crime labs are a "James Bond" world of innovative technology and brilliant scientists, sifting evidence and data to arrive at unimpeachablely accurate results.

Sadly, no. Crime labs are often understaffed, with overworked, low-wage workers using ordinary technology and techniques, to arrive at often questionable and sometimes wrong results in criminal cases. Various newspapers have reported on mistakes, shoddy work and other problems in crime labs in New York and Boston.

These examples are just the most recent and most glaring cases of problems in crime labs. While the problems in New York center on a single technician, who appears to have botched her handling of numerous rape kits, the problems in many crime labs go much deeper.

The management of forensic labs and the lack of standards or certification for those who work in the labs mean there could be great variances from lab to lab in how evidence is handled. Since much of this information is used to conclusively determine guilt, errors and mistakes have far-reaching consequences.

Combine this with financially strapped agencies, whose funding is often cut or stagnant due to incessant complaints over "high taxes," fewer workers have to do more with less. In Boston, a worker was incredibly fast in her drug tests. Turns out, she was sloppy and 34,000 cases are under review because of her handling of the evidence.

Insuring the integrity of evidence used in cases to deprive individuals of their liberty is of the highest concern, and given the contentious political debate over adequately funding government, which includes the courts, police and forensic crime labs, virtually guarantees we will find more stories like these.

Source:, "The Unsettling, Underregulated World of Crime Labs," Justin Petets, January 14, 2013,

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