Fallout on state crime lab improprieties

Fallout on state crime lab improprieties
CALDWELL, Idaho - In May, Idaho State Police announced that some of its lab workers were caught breaking policies and procedures and it had been going on for years. Bryan Taylor is Canyon County’s Prosecutor. He’s standing by the convictions, at least for now.

"The primary violation that took place was the state lab individuals were hiding certain controlled substances within the lab and it wasn't too large of an amount," Taylor said.

Taylor received the same documents that the Truth Squad uncovered three weeks ago. They give details on broken policies and protocols, investigators say crime lab workers committed over several years.

One memo says some of the employees “Hid the unauthorized display drugs from auditors to avoid detection of this practice."

Another memo says when a worker was questioned about something she "Climbed up on the drug bench, lifted the ceiling tiles, and pulled out a box of drugs."

And ISP investigators discovered a third lab worker violated policies as well saying " (she) deliberately kept the GHB secreted within the lab."

Despite the seriousness of the findings, Taylor isn't swayed.

"There are two different issues, the issue of them trying to conceal something in violation of their policy manual versus the actual testing of the drugs, testing of the blood, the actual forensics work that's taken place. I haven't been provided any information that is in jeopardy," Taylor said.

Defense attorney George Patterson of Boise sees it differently.

"Now they've thrown reasonable doubt into every drug case," Patterson said.

The State Public Defender’s Office says up to 1,100 cases could be affected by the scandal.

Patterson is preparing for a lot of calls from former clients he's defended in the past. He sees a strong legal basis for challenging drug convictions on appeal.

"So if there are drugs floating around in a lab that are unaccounted for that don't have a chain of custody from the defendant to the police officer to the lab to the testing then those results are certainly questionable," Patterson said.

"It had nothing to do with the way in which they were actually testing the controlled substances and to me if it has nothing to do with the actual testing component, I'm not as concerned with regards to reasonable doubt," Taylor said.

ISP says it can't comment on the matter saying it is an internal personnel issue. All three lab workers involved have resigned as a result of the scandal. They are not facing criminal charges since they are legally authorized to handle the drugs as long as they don't leave the lab.

-----

If you'd like the Truth Squad to investigate an issue or problem, submit your story ideavia our Truth Squad submission page.