“These findings are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system, not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongly imprisoned, and even executed, but for prosecutors who have relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law.” Senator Richard Blumenthal
Carey Wedler | Anti Media – March 4, 2016
A lab technician for the New Jersey State Polices’ Office of Forensic Science has ‘retired’ early after being caught falsely identifying a substance as marijuana without conducting the proper tests. On Monday, Deputy Public Defender Judy Fallon issued a memo to Public Defender Joseph Krakora explaining Kamalkant Shah’s falsified report:
“Laboratory Technician II Kamalkant Shah of the New Jersey State Police Laboratory (in Little Falls) has been found to have ‘dry labbed’ suspected CDS specimens. Basically, he was observed writing ‘test results’ for suspected marijuana that was never tested.”
According to NJ Advance Media, “Ellie Honig, director of the Division of Criminal Justice of the Attorney general’s office, said in [a] Feb. 22 letter to county prosecutor’s offices that Shah ‘failed to appropriately conduct laboratory analyses in a drug case.’”
The letter, released from the Attorney General to the news outlet on Wednesday, disclosed that “Mr. Shah was observed in one case spending insufficient time analyzing a substance to determine if it was marijuana and recording an anticipated result without properly conducting the analysis.”
“The letter advised prosecutors to disclose this information to defense counsel,” NJ Advance Media reported.
The former technician’s indiscretion in that singular marijuana case has now called into question thousands of drug cases he conducted tests for, as the one in question was only the first observed instance of his dishonesty.
As Fallon noted, “Mr. Shah was employed with the lab from 2005 to 2015; obviously all his ‘results’ have been called into question.”
Read below about Minnesota’s own problems in the criminal justice system:
Dakota County Public Defenders Lauri Traub and Christine Funk
JULY 28, 2012
“If I were waiting on us, we’d have coffee by now,” said Traub, who along with Funk has caused upheaval at the St. Paul crime lab by questioning the way it processed drug cases.
Traub made her declaration with authority, but not the authority of a respected defense attorney. She made it with the authority of a waitress at a hotel restaurant, which she is when she is not defending drug dealers or murderers.
You could say Traub is well versed in both torts and tortes.
Together, they have raised questions about the St. Paul crime lab that should scare the bejeebers out of cops, prosecutors and anybody wrongly convicted of a crime.
This summer, they identified about 1,700 drug cases in Ramsey, Dakota and Washington counties that could qualify for “post-conviction relief” because the evidence originally presented to the crime lab could have been mishandled or misinterpreted. But so far, attorneys in the already strained public defender’s office have filed for relief — anything from a shortened sentence to a dismissal of charges — in 17 cases where defendants were convicted with evidence that relied on the police lab.
Prosecutors have largely taken a hard-line stance on the challenges after a judge ruled earlier this year that evidence that had been retested could be used in court. Since then, many requests haven’t made it past the filing of copious paperwork; judges denied evidentiary hearings where arguments could be hashed out in open court and requests to withdraw guilty pleas were denied. The decisions, made in chambers based on court transcripts and written arguments, are well within a judge’s purview — but frustrate the public defender’s office.
“[Prosecutors] want to hold onto the convictions,” said Jenny Chaplinski, an attorney in the appellate unit who is spearheading the challenges. “That’s their job; I get that.
“I thought there would be a lot more open communication between the public defender’s office, or myself, and the prosecutors’ offices, and that hasn’t been the case.”
Only two defendants have met with some degree of success — their convictions in Washington County were reduced from felonies to misdemeanors and they were released early from probation after prosecutors and defense attorneys negotiated.
“In this case, the two lawyers talked and saved everybody time,” said Fred Fink, criminal division chief for the Washington County attorney’s office. “I thought it was a reasonable way to handle things. The state still walked away with a … conviction.”
Chaplinski isn’t optimistic about the status of the remaining cases. Six cases in Ramsey County have been denied post-conviction relief, six are pending and one was dismissed by the defendant. Two are pending in Dakota County.
Both sides face a delicate balance as they continue to navigate fallout from a hearing last year that showed major scientific flaws with how the St. Paul police lab tested suspected drugs. Everyone agrees that the lab had problems even as people were convicted with evidence it produced, or pleaded guilty before evidence could be sent there for testing.
But prosecutors and defense attorneys have clashed about how much review, if any, older cases should receive in light of the revelations. For Chaplinski and others at the public defender’s office, the implications merit thorough vetting — and a hearing in court — for anyone who steps forward.
DECEMBER 8, 2015 KATIE WORTH
The equipment in the St. Paul Police crime lab was filthy. Technicians accidentally contaminated some samples, and made fundamental mistakes while testing others. In one case, a Post-it note on a case file indicated that someone not employed by the lab had opened drug evidence and weighed it. In another, a technician used Wikipedia as a “technical reference.”
These were among the findings of two independent reviews of the St. Paul Police crime lab — findings that shocked Minnesota authorities and shut down the facility for six months in 2013. That summer, state public defenders identified 1,700 drug cases that could qualify for “post-conviction relief” because evidence brought to the lab might have been mishandled or misinterpreted.
Just another fake solution to pacify the public. Anyhow, what ever happened to the 2 Dakota County Whistleblowers?
Minnesota Office of the Public Defender
Read more: http://minnlawyer.com/2013/02/25/attorneys-of-the-year-lauri-traub-and-christine-funk/#ixzz44OpX9Ijy
NOVEMBER 6, 2013
In a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Lauri Traub accused unidentified members of the police departments and sheriff’s offices in St. Paul, Farmington, St. Paul Park, Hastings, Burnsville, Aitkin County, Dakota County and Sherburne County of obtaining personal information from her motor vehicle record about a dozen times since June 2010.
Christine Funk Attorney at Law
Advisory Committee on The Minnesota Rules of Evidence August 2005 – June 2006 Member by Appointment.
Responsibilities included reviewing the Minnesota Rules of Evidence with an eye towards new case law and statutes, making suggested changes and alterations in keeping with current law, as well as trends in Federal Court and around the nation.
Innocence Project of Minnesota June 2003 – present. Member by Application
Consultant regarding fore nsic DNA issues in cases involving Innocence Project clients. May 2006 – present
May 2006 – present Board Member Consultant regarding forensic DNA issues in cases involving Innocence Project clients. Contribute to pursuit of Innocence Project mission, including education in the community.
Minnesota Forensic Laboratory Advisory Board September 2006 – present Member by Appointment
Technical Working Group on DNA for Defense Attorneys October 2007 – present Member by Invitation National Institute of Justice