This page contains information about crime laboratories, with a specific focus on North Carolina crime laboratories and their procedures.
- What is in a State Crime Laboratory Lab Report?
- Analyst Certification Information
- Laboratory Accreditation and ISO Standards and the NC Forensic Sciences Act of 2011
Reports and Publications
Chris Swecker and Michael Wolf were retained by the NC Attorney General’s Office to conduct an independent review of the Forensic Biology Section of the SBI Crime Laboratory. The investigation began in March 2010 and focuses on policies, procedures and practices between 1987 and 2003.
- Case Information – The News and Observer created a database of the cases identified by the Swecker Report. The online database allows you to sort the cases by prosecutorial district or by analyst involved.
- Additional 75 cases – In March 2011, an SBI internal review of serology cases revealed an additional 75 defendants whose cases were affected by the same problematic reporting practices as the 230 cases identified in the Swecker Report. The additional cases were discovered when lab staff hand-reviewed files that had been screened electronically for the Swecker investigation.
- The Wolf Memo – Michael Wolf’s provided a summary of Forensic Serology Laboratory Reporting Policies from the FBI and other states around 1990/1991.
- The News and Observer published Chris Swecker’s previous report to the SBI regarding SBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dwight Ransome and related SBI policies and procedures. This report was commissioned by the Attorney General’s Office following Ransome’s involvement in the Alan Gell case. Recommendations from this report included changes to the SBI’s Report Writing Manual, additional training regarding obtaining and preserving documentary evidence, and confirmation from relevant DA’s offices that potential exculpatory material was provided in specified SBI investigations.
Report submitted by Judge Vince Rozier during his time as Ombudsman to the SBI. The document includes a memo by Judge Joseph John responding to the recommendations of the Ombudsman. The report was released by the SBI in Aug. 2011.
This 2001 report by the North Carolina Medical Examiner Study Group was requested by the legislature in part in response to a series of news articles that raised concerns about the quality of death investigation in North Carolina. The report provides information about the structure and responsiblities of the Medical Examiner system and makes a number of recommendations for improving the system including improved training, utilization of trained death investigators, and assuring adequate resources for the performance of death investigation and autopsies throughout the state.
From the Blog
- An announcement from Becton Dickinson and Company (BD) may raise doubts about the validity of some blood alcohol tests conducted across the country since August 31, 2018. On May 30, 2019, with a correction made June 12, 2019, BD announced a recall for its “BD Vacutainer® Fluoride Tubes for Blood Alcohol Determinations” product. Vacutainers are …
- Analyst Certification Information, 7/23/2019In 2011, the North Carolina legislature enacted a series of reforms designed to increase the accountability and accuracy of forensic evidence used in criminal trials. The Forensic Sciences Act of 2011 states that State Crime Lab analysts “shall be required to obtain individual certification consistent with international and ISO standards.” Many of the certification organizations post certified …
- DNA testing issue at NMS Labs, 7/19/2019Attorneys from several counties have received notice through discovery that their cases that their cases were potentially affected by a DNA testing issue at National Medical Services (NMS) Labs in Pennsylvania. DA’s offices in various jurisdictions have sent samples to NMS Labs for DNA testing in recent years. The issue that has been identified is …
- The Texas Legislature recently legalized the cultivation of hemp, complicating enforcement of existing marijuana laws in the state. Hemp and marijuana are the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, and are distinguishable only through a chemical analysis which shows the THC concentration. The concentration of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, is the legal difference …
- In 2018, the NC General Assembly passed legislation (S.L. 2018-70) requiring the creation of the a statewide tracking system to track the testing of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits (SAECKs) from collection to completion of forensic testing. The tracking system is now available for all stakeholders in the criminal justice system. For kits collected …
- State Crime Lab Tour – July 26, 2019, 6/10/2019There will be a tour of the NC State Crime Laboratory in Raleigh for defense attorneys on Friday, July 26, 2019 at 11 am. State Crime Lab staff will take attorneys and defense investigators to several sections of the lab and provide information about the techniques used by lab analysts. This is an excellent opportunity …
- The NC State Crime Laboratory has put into place a change to its Document Management Policy that should help criminal defense attorneys of record who wish to speak to the persons at the Crime Lab who have worked on their client’s case(s). The new procedure states: 22.214.171.124 Once a Case Record has been finalized, the …
- The NC State Crime Lab is conducting a customer satisfaction survey. The survey will be open until Aug. 31, 2018. Filling out the survey will allow the NC State Crime Lab to get feedback on your interactions with them over the past year. The survey is short and should not take much time to complete. …
- The North Carolina State Crime Laboratory has shared its current and archived/historical procedures with IDS, which will facilitate attorney access to these procedures and improves transparency in how evidence is tested and processed in the Lab. Attorneys who need access to the lab procedures in their cases now have several options to locate these procedures. …
- Stetson Law’s National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law is offering a complementary webinar for defense attorneys and prosecutors on Dec. 14, 2017 from 12-2 pm. Registration and program information is available here. The program will explain the lab accreditation process and the certification of individual forensic science practitioners in specific disciplines. Panelists will …
Motions and Briefs
Hearing regarding SCL analyst certification results has been continued to June 26, 2012 at 2 pm.
Judge Gary M. Gavenus’s July 13, 2012 order requiring the State Crime Laboratory furnish to each District Attorney in the State the first and second letter containing the actual certification exam results and designated areas requiring further study.
Civil complaint against former SBI agents/supervisors/directors Deaver, Taub, Nelson, Keaton and Elliot filed in U.S. District Court in Raleigh on June 28, 2011.
August 2, 2012 letter notifying defense attorneys who represented clients in approximately 80 resolved cases involving an analyst who was unsuccessful on his or her certifying exam. The letter specifies how information on analyst certification exam results will be provided based on Judge Gavenus’s order.
July 17, 2012 memo to defense attorneys regarding Judge Gavenus’s order.
June 12, 2012 State’s Motion requesting information regarding State Crime Lab certification exams. No file stamped version is available.
This sample motion contains a request for specific discovery, motion to preserve evidence and motion to produce for an in camera inspection by the court is another approach.
Signed into law by Governor Beverly Perdue on March 31, 2011. Sections 1-5 and 7-11 became effective when the act became law. Section 6 (Ombudsman position) becomes effective on July 1, 2011.
Section 6 of this law extends the time for local forensic science labs (other than the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory) to become accredited from October 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013. Section 6.1 clarifies which State Crime Laboratory employees are required to become certified.
Extends the time for local forensic science labs (other than the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory) to become accredited from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2016.
Crime Labs in the News
- SC CBD stores left confused amid raids, new opinion, by Conor Hughes, The Post and Courier, 8/5/2019
- Prosecutors who covered up Mass. drug lab scandal now face bar discipline, civil rights lawsuit, by Tom Jackman, Washington Post, 7/30/2019
- Accreditation for Pitt County Sheriff’s Office forensics lab, WITN, 7/10/2019
- Anonymous reporting line for forensic science professionals launched (UK), 7/2/2019
- Thousands of DWI cases in Harris County thrown into question after blood vial recall, by Samantha Ketterer and St. John Barned-Smith, Chron, 6/21/2019
- Thousands of Harris County drunk driving cases affected by blood vial recall, by KHOU Staff, KHOU, 6/21/2019
- We need to fix forensics. But how?, by Radley Balko, Washington Post, 6/20/2019
- Her body was found with her baby, still alive, beside her. 47 years later, an arrest, by Joe Johnson, Raleigh News & Observer, 4/30/2019