North Carolina defense attorneys no longer have to rely on the District Attorney’s office to find out information regarding the status of a test being performed by the State Crime Lab. Defense attorneys can now contact Joy Strickland, Assistant Attorney General at 919-662-4509 ext. 4400 or firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions about the status of a lab analysis. Ms. Strickland can inform attorneys whether their case has been assigned to an analyst, if it is still awaiting assignment, or if it is in another part of the lab for processing. Defense attorneys can also check with Ms. Strickland that they have received all lab reports from all sections of the lab. Ms. Strickland responds to attorneys across the state regarding lab analysis, so please use discretion in determining which cases to contact her about. Before releasing information about the case, Ms. Strickland will need to verify that you are the attorney of record in the case. You can email her a copy of your appointment letter or another court document indicating that you are attorney of record.
This is a valuable resource available to defense attorneys because there have been cases where the State Crime Lab completed analysis and sent the lab report to the DA’s office and it was not turned over to the defense attorney in a timely manner due to clerical errors at the DA’s office. Click here to read about a case where a man was kept in jail for months awaiting lab results before it was determined that the State Crime Lab had sent the lab results to the DA’s office four months previously, but the DA’s office did not realize the reports had been received. The lab results exonerated the client of the rape charge he was facing. Assistant District Attorney Paul Jackson blamed his office’s delay on “unintentional human error.” A similar situation occurred in a Durham case where the District Attorney’s Office claimed it had not received lab results in a case whereas the State Crime Lab said it sent the results almost six months previously.
At most DA’s offices, staffers download the test results from the State Crime Lab’s Forensic Advantage program and pass the results on to prosecutors for disclosure in discovery. Unfortunately for defense attorneys and their clients, this process has resulted in delayed justice. To avoid a similar situation in your cases, it is recommended that you check with Joy Strickland regarding the status of lab reports instead of relying solely on information from the DA’s office.