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Fabrication

New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Science

Kamal Shah was a drug analyst at the New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Science from 2005 to 2015 and handled 7827 cases (Augustine). He was seen dry labbing suspected marijuana, otherwise known as providing test results without actually performing those tests on the samples.

Considerations in the case for further discussion/research are as follows:

  • • What does one have to gain by cutting corners?
  • • Is there pressure within the laboratory to not fully test samples?
  • • Are these scientists properly trained?
  • • Are the actions intentional or a matter of incompetence?
  • • Are scientists aware of the larger impact such actions cause to the agency and the profession?

Advocacy

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory

Cynthia Burbach, a former toxicology laboratory director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, openly supported prosecutors, did not properly train employees, and applied pressure to scientists to testify to procedure with which they were unfamiliar (Steffen, 2013). In the wake of the report, blood-alcohol and blood-drug tests were outsourced to private laboratories. The bias and over-zealous nature of an expert witness can cause jurors to give too much weight to the evidence in question. Experts must not overstate conclusions or reliability of tests conducted.

Considerations in the case for further discussion/research are as follows:

  • • The impact of bias on cases and testimony
  • • Pressure by lawyers, supervisors, or the professional culture
  • • Responsibility to understand procedures and methodology
  • • Importance of training
  • • Recognizing unethical behavior of supervisors
 
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