Saturday, May 07, 2005

On the Virginia state crime lab

This TalkLeft post reports on an independent audit blasting the state lab that analyzes evidence in criminal cases in Virginia, and links to this NY Times article, which begins: "A sharply critical independent audit found Friday that Virginia's nationally recognized central crime laboratory had botched DNA tests in a leading capital murder case. The findings prompted Gov. Mark Warner to order a review of the lab's handling of testing in 150 other cases as well." The NYT article says the report implies that office of Governor Gilmore pressured the lab in connection with the prosecution of Earl Washington.

The Richmond paper has this article on the audit report. This story reports one of Washington's lawyers as saying: "There's every reason to believe that in every capital case, there is enormous political pressure to break the rules, if necessary, to keep the defendant convicted."

The Norfolk paper has this article, which explains that the audit was only about the one case, the Washington case. It cites DNA lawyer Peter Neufeld, who also represented Washington:

"Washington’s attorney, Peter Neufeld, said the audit demonstrates that Washington should have been exonerated in 1993.

'He unnecessarily and unconscionably spent an additional seven years in prison,' said Neufeld, co-director of the Innocence Project.

Neufeld said Warner should amend the pardon to state that Washington is in fact innocent of the crime, a conclusion Gilmore did not reach."

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