Forensic science in the criminal justice system is the deciding factor in many criminal cases. It occupies a leading position in a criminal proceeding. Technical skills are applied for the collection, preservation, and analysis of physical evidence. A fingerprint or bite mark comparison, DNA profiling, analyzing a chemical substance, and countless other examples of evidence testing can call for a conviction, even in questionable cases. The public and juries are led to believe that forensic science is infallible. However, how many faulty forensic science tests have resulted in wrongful convictions? What are the accountability standards in the forensic industry?
In 2015, the FBI reported serious errors nationwide in criminal proceedings regarding unreliable DNA analysis in courts. At that time, there were 32 defendants sentenced to death on fabricated evidence.
Professional Ethics and Reasonable Doubt
In Broward County, Florida, the Chief Toxicologist for the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office, Dr. Gary Kunsman, is currently under investigation for the alleged theft of a controlled substance and evidence tampering. The Broward State Attorney, Harold F. Pryor, has directed the notification of this investigation to all defense attorneys where Dr. Kunsman served as a witness, due to issues of credibility. The ongoing case against Dr. Kunsman opens the door for reasonable doubt in the conviction of many defendants and those with a trial in progress. It appears that since 2019, Dr. Kunsman testified as a witness in at least 168 cases in Broward County. Before his residence in Florida, he was a toxicologist in Oakland County, Michigan, where he worked on countless cases that are in question.
Faulty Forensic Science
In forensic science, if the evidence is mishandled, manipulated, or misinterpreted, the outcome is altered and can ruin many lives. Forensic personnel must be adequately trained and educated, as well as having the highest integrity. The legal system counts on the honesty and integrity of its officials for justice to prevail.
In a criminal case, besides the possibility of law enforcement failing to maintain a proper chain of custody or maintain the crime scene’s integrity, forensic practitioners can make mistakes, mix up samples, or contaminate specimens. Testing equipment may not be appropriately calibrated or have mechanical failures. And in the recent case of Dr. Kunsman, it is his professional ethics that are in question.
Accreditation of Laboratories in Florida
While judges are the gatekeepers in the courtroom, they are educated in law, not science. Accreditation programs are the best method to ensure a crime laboratory follows best practices. The evidence must meet standards, or the court must exclude it from a trial. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement accredits forensic labs in Florida in six locations throughout the state. Accreditation conveys to the court that testing procedures follow high standards. However, errors are often made. Evidence that could exclude a defendant is often inconclusive or just wrong.
We Defend Against Forensic Errors
If you are being investigated or charged with a criminal offense, it is vital that you retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows the pitfalls and flaws of forensic evidence. The AP Law Group aggressively challenges the forensic inconsistencies of evidence in a trial. Our legal team scrutinizes evidence to discredit the prosecution’s data when unsound science may be contributing to a conviction. Attorneys Tania Alavi and Andrew Pozzuto have over 50 years of combined legal experience in Florida and Federal Criminal Law cases. We are committed and responsive to our clients, fierce negotiators, and successful trial lawyers.
The AP Law Group handles all types of Misdemeanor and Felony crimes in Florida State and Federal Courts of law. To speak with a quality, well-respected criminal defense attorney, contact us at 352-732-9191 for a confidential appointment in Ocala or Gainesville, Florida.