Archive for February, 2010

More False Blood-Alcohol Tests

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I wrote a couple of months ago about a growing number of false blood-alcohol tests that had been discovered in the Colorado Springs Metro Crime Lab.  At the time, about 1,000 tests were suspect, of which 82 had been confirmed as being falsely high.  See Hundreds in Denver Possibly Convicted with Falsely High Blood Tests.  The number of those falsely convicted continues to grow, with no end in sight….

Audit : Number of Inflated DUI Tests Has Doubled

Colorado Springs, CO.  Jan. 30 - The number of flawed blood alcohol tests has doubled since a Colorado Springs Police Crime Lab internal audit last year discovered that some results were inflated, authorities said last week.

Results in 167 DUI cases have been called into question, up from the initial 82 that were disclosed in December, according to 4th Judicial District Senior Deputy District Attorney Frederick Stein.

Stein could not say yet what the impact of the erroneous tests would be on the criminal cases involved, but added that the DA’s office hopes have a report compiling those outcomes within the next two weeks.

On Dec. 11, the police department reported that a routine audit had discovered the errors and began both an internal and external investigation into how reported test results came in higher than the actual level.

At the time, the department started re-testing about 1,000 blood alcohol test results taken since January 2009…

The Colorado Bureau of Investigations is conducting the external investigation while the police department conducts its own internal review. Both of those investigations are ongoing, police spokesman Lt. David Whitlock said Friday.

“I can’t say anything definitive about the underlying cause,” Whitlock said.

In January, the police department also disclosed that a refrigerator that held DNA evidence had malfunctioned over a four-day period in December. Police, however, said experts did not believe the 235 samples of blood, semen and urine had been rendered unusable by the accident…

(Note: if blood specimens aren’t refrigerated, they will ferment — causing alcohol to be produced in the blood samples.)

So…167 DUI convictions based on false test results and rising — in just one city during one year.  How many similar errors have gone undetected or unreported in other cities during that one year alone?  How many tens of thousands of citizens across the country have been convicted of drunk driving based upon similar false evidence?

(Thanks to Jeanne Pruett.)


Guarding the Guardians

Monday, February 1st, 2010

In the "Who will guard the guardians?" department…

Activists want penalties for cops who protect colleagues who drive drunk

Tuckahoe, NJ.  Jan. 20 — Reacting to a Journal News report in which 10 local police officers admitted anonymously that cops often give other cops a break when they are found driving drunk, (Tuckahoe Police Chief) Costanzo and others said no slack should be granted in DWI cases.

Carol Sears, president of the Westchester chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, called the report "very disturbing."

"These are the people who are supposed to be protecting all of us," she said. "We put our trust in them to keep drunk drivers off the road, and it turns out that when they’re the drunk drivers, they’re being protected by other police officers."…

The issue comes in the wake of the arrests of White Plains Officer Joe Zepeda, Westchester Officer Joseph Kraus, Dobbs Ferry Officer Michael Huffman and county Correction Officer Patricia Yancy-Johnson on misdemeanor DWI charges following accidents within a three-week period. All four, who were off duty, refused to submit to chemical tests to determine blood-alcohol levels.

Sears said any officer who covers up for another officer should be brought up on charges.

"I’d like to see some agency or entity investigate this whole ‘blue wall of silence’ thing," she said.

Welcome to the real world, Miss Sears.  To add to your enlightenment, see a few of my earlier posts, such as Who Will Guard the Guardians?, The DUI Double Standard, The DUI Double Standard II and Who Guards the Guardians?.

(Thanks to Lance Mixon.)