House OKs changes to SBI crime lab

Posted February 15, 2011 3:13 p.m. EST

The House passed legislation Tuesday designed to upgrade operations in the state crime lab.

H27, the Forensic Sciences Act, passed second and third readings with no debate and no opposition and now heads to the Senate.

The bill comes months after an independent review found that SBI blood-stain analysts overstated or omitted evidence in about 200 criminal cases over 17 years. Attorney General Roy Cooper removed the crime lab director and ordered audits of every section of the lab.

The bill would create a forensic sciences advisory board to ensure the crime lab's practices are valid and up to date and an ombudsman to work with law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys and the public to ensure the lab's activities are in the best interest of justice.

Analysts or prosecutors who don't furnish test results to defense attorneys could face obstruction of justice charges under the legislation.