2,500 Crime Lab Drug Tests Botched In Santa Clara County
SANTA CLARA (KCBS) — The Santa Clara County’s District Attorney’s Office is notifying about 2,500 defendants arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance and their attorneys that tests for methamphetamine use, taken two-month period, were conducted improperly.
Crime lab workers used the wrong chemical that resulted in a mixture creating an increased the sensitivity of the tests. Deputy DA David Angel said, however, that only seven tests showed a false positive. No one, they said was in custody due to the mistake and that two of the cases involved people who have died.
The lab analyst who made the initial mistake in January has been reassigned from drug testing duties until an investigation can be completed. A criminalist discovered the error two months later.
In a released statement, Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen stated that human error will always exist within the criminal justice system but added that it was vital that mistakes are quickly found and fixed.
Legal analyst and former prosecutor Steven Clark told KCBS that fallout of the botched test results could have larger implications.
“Anytime you have a protocol that appears to be flawed and that a mistake was made over 2,500 times, in terms of the drug-test procedure, you could argue that the crime lab is just not reliable,” he said. “At the end of the day, the defense may want to have drug cases sent out to an independent lab for test to verify the results.”