SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco District Attorney’s office on Friday posted an extensive list of cases that could be affected the misconduct of a forensic lab analyst who is being charged with intent to distribute methamphetamine, officials said.
District Attorney Chesea Boudin announced with a news release that his office had posted “a comprehensive list of prosecutions” by an analyst with the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) who is being investigated in a drug scheme.
On August 31, the DA’s office learned that OCME Forensic Laboratory Analyst Justin Volk had been arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in Washington County, Utah.
“Volk worked for the OCME and had been assigned to the forensic laboratory for almost thirteen years,” Boudin said in the press release. “During those years, Mr. Volk played a role in many cases prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.”
Boudin went on to say that the list of prosecutions that Volk was involved in was made public “to provide transparency and empower those whose cases may be affected to explore further.”
“My office has acted with great urgency in responding to the allegations against Justin Volk, and we have prioritized working to review all convictions in cases in which he was involved,” said Boudin. “Ensuring the integrity of our convictions is of the utmost importance, and for that reason, we are publishing this information as part of our commitment to integrity and transparency in the criminal legal system.”
The DA’s office estimated that Volk was involved in “more than 2,500 law enforcement investigations including 500 death investigations, 1,200 sexual-assault investigations, and 800 DUI investigations” as an analyst testing, collecting and preserving evidence in those investigations.
The District Attorney’s office sent a letter to Mayor London Breed and Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee in September to request additional resources “in order to meet the Office’s Constitutional obligation to notify, identify, and investigate the impact of the potential mishandling and misappropriation of OCME property.”
The District Attorney’s letter additionally explained that a surge in appellate filings and requests for new trials in connection with Volk’s involvement was expected that would impact the Boudin’s office. So far, the DA’s office said those additional resources, estimated to cost approximately $455,731, have not been made available.
Boudin’s office noted that there could be additional cases not included on the published spreadsheet prosecutions Volk may have been involved with and that there would be updates. While the DA does not assert that Volk’s involvement necessarily casts doubt any convictions, “the information is provided to facilitate obtaining more details to determine whether any evidence supporting the conviction may have been tainted by Mr. Volk.”
Volk remains under investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
The DA’s office is encouraging anyone whose case might have been impacted to contact their defense attorney to determine whether legal recourse may be available.