State News

Cooper appoints interim crime lab chief, calls for thorough audit

Posted September 8, 2010
Updated September 16, 2010

— North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday that he wants an audit of the state crime lab to determine if questionable practices were used.

Last month, a report by independent investigators found 190 cases that resulted in convictions from 1987 to 2003  in which State Bureau of Investigation agents in the crime lab's blood-stain analysis unit omitted, overstated or falsely reported information about blood evidence.

The report led SBI Director Greg McLeod to relieve Jerry Richardson of his duties as crime lab director and to remove any SBI analysts identified in the review of their current caseloads.

Cooper named former state Court of Appeals Chief Judge Gerald Arnold to serve as interim director of the crime lab and oversee the audits to determine if similar problems occurred in other sections of the lab.

"Judge Arnold is charged with making sure the lab provides results that are accurate and properly reported," Cooper said at a news conference. "He will also oversee a review of all the sections of the lab to determine if any of the problems regarding lab reports and lab bench notes found in the old serology section have been occurring in other sections."

There has been no evidence of similar problems in other areas, he said, but if problems are found by the audits, they will be fixed.

State Bureau of Investigation, SBI (16x9) Cooper appoints interim crime lab chief, calls for thorough audit

A eight-member advisory panel of prosecutors, defense lawyers and other representatives of the criminal justice system that will help select a new crime lab director also met Wednesday afternoon for the first time.

"I'm interested in their feedback and making sure we continue to build back confidence in the agency," McLeod said.

McLeod said he wants the panel to first identify key qualities the next crime lab director should possess, but that effort caused some disagreement Wednesday.

"The problems I've seen are primarily not with the failure of science but a failure in the management and supervision, and I think that's where we've got to put considerable emphasis," said Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, a panel member.

"My ideal candidate is someone who has a scientific background," defense attorney Phil Baddour said.

The director of the crime lab manages 176 analysts and agents, more than 90 percent of whom have science degrees.

"I really don't have the background to say – Is this a doctorate? Is it a master's degree? – what kind of experience. Those are open questions for me that need to be addressed," Baddour said.

26 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • fireman1963 Sep 9, 2010

    Some of you people are unbelievable. The SBI is NOT a corrupt organization. They are hard working professionals who do their jobs as they were/are trained to do. The N&O hit piece has caused more harm to this group than the paper was worth that the articles were written on. I have a relative that is a toxicologist/forensic chemist at the lab. She has a degree in chemistry and is licensed to perform toxicology analysis in the State of NC. Her integrity was challenged one time by an independent "expert" who turned out to have falsified their credentials and education. Interesting that the N&O didn't do a series of articles on so-called independent experts who falsify their own reports and credentials.

    There was a comment about the firearms expert who happened to be a ballerina in a part life. Did you know she went back to school to get a science degree in forensics? And the reason she didn't take photos is because the state wouldn't approve the camera system they requested?

  • colliedave Sep 8, 2010

    As a strong conservative Christian I am disgusted that our judical system could become so corrupt

  • rroadrunner99 Sep 8, 2010

    In all the talking on the news and article's that the Attorney General has commented in no where have I seen mentioned criminal charges being brought against any employee of the SBI crime Lab.All you read or hear is they have been relieved of their caseload's... Now I wonder why they aren't being charged with a crime when they reported false evidence and /or withheld evidence in court cases? Should the State Attorney General then be charged with Accessory to a crime since he head's the State Justice Dept., and there have been no charges filed? As a resident of North Carolina I think the employee's that withheld evidence, and falsely reported evidence should be charged and tried in open court. And if found guilty serve some serious prison time, and NOT at a "resort type" prison. Let them serve their prison sentence in Central Prison in Raleigh, that will do more to deter other's from trying to get by with this again more than you might think.

  • Tater Salad Returns Sep 8, 2010

    Audit are good ways for state agencies to cover up their own tracks. The audit should be performed by an OUTSIDE SOURCE, or the good ole' boy network will continue to thrive.

    They HATE outsiders in state organizations because it has the potential to show too much nepotism, corruption, and scandal in NC government (SBI, AG, SHP, Aunt Bev, etc, etc, etc)

  • WHEEL Sep 8, 2010

    "ratherbnnc" Hoping to keep your State job after the cuts? Better hope it doesn't require a lot of mental dexterity.

  • Hans Sep 8, 2010

    "Man the uneducated come out of the woodwork here.
    "

    And so do the politically indoctrinated.

  • ratherbnnc Sep 8, 2010

    Step down, Cooper. You are a disgrace.
    Hans

    What do you mean step down? None of this even occured while he has been Attorney General. This was under Thornburg and part of Easleys term as Atty General.. Man the uneducated come out of the woodwork here.

  • ratherbnnc Sep 8, 2010

    NOVEMBER!!!

    We can change the face of North Carolina politics. Will we change-or hold the status quo??? High taxes and big budgets??? Is that what NC is about????
    cwood3

    Hate to break the bad news to you, but Roy Cooper's re-election isnt up in November!

  • WHEEL Sep 8, 2010

    The SBI lab and agents are doing a great job except possibly the agent who got the town idiot to sign a confession he couldn't have written of dictated, and the balistics agent/ballet dancer who didn't think taking pictures of bullet matches was necessary although the FBI said she didn't have a clue, and lets not forget the blood folks that don't really know whose blood is is or if it is actually blood, sounds like things are about par for the course. Notice that the term "relieved of duties" is used instead of "fired" A politician never fired a voter especially in an election year.

  • cwood3 Sep 8, 2010

    This still smells-really bad. Roy was ultimately in charge!! oh that's right-he's a Democrat. They're above the law. OK???

    NOVEMBER!!!

    We can change the face of North Carolina politics. Will we change-or hold the status quo??? High taxes and big budgets??? Is that what NC is about????

More...