The OC Weekly follows up on an absolutely outrageous case in which a carjacking suspect took a plea under a direct threat from the trial judge that he’d put the man in prison for life if he continued to maintain his innocence and was still convicted. This, after DNA evidence excluded the man. The crime lab expert says when she showed the test results to the prosecutor, she said she "didn’t care" about the findings, "I want him not excluded." More disturbingly, she added,
About every week, we ask the crime lab to reconsider findings. Sometimes, they make changes.
Can’t think of a better argument for reforming the forensics system. Who the hell are prosecutors to ask crime lab experts to “reconsider” their findings? Findings are findings. They’re supposed to be grounded in science. If technicians in Orange County are “reconsidering” their findings at the request of prosecutors, they’re either sloppy the first time around, or they’re tweaking their results to help the state win convictions. Neither prospect reflects well on them, or on justice in Orange County. Of course, the prosecutor could just be lying about all of this. Which, given her conduct in this case, doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.
But kudos to the crime lab technicians in this particular case for holding their ground. In fact, the technician here was prepared to testify for the defense. As she absolutely should do–and be permitted to do–when prosecutors proceed with a case in the face of exculpatory forensic evidence.
The suspect was later exonerated when the crime lab was able to match the DNA to a career criminal.
(Hat tip: The Innocence Blog)