A lawsuit brought by three forensic scientists accused of cheating on a training exam for new software may uncover a much deeper, more troubling problem in New York’s Criminal Justice system. These scientists claim that they merely collaborated with colleagues on the exam, as they were encouraged to do throughout their training process, and that they are being unfairly targeted by State Police for termination because they have raised concerns that older methods used by the state’s crime lab may have yielded false results.
This lawsuit, which was filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Albany, asserts that an unknown number of convictions may have relied on inaccurate DNA test results. The fallout of this claim is potentially huge, as if the scientists’ claims are true, then there could be a massive number of people who may have been wrongly convicted and sent to prison based upon questionable DNA evidence. This casts considerable doubt on a form of evidence that has long been considered irrefutable by the State’s criminal justice system.
Some have speculated that the state’s investigation of the scientists’ alleged cheating was merely a cover-up in an attempt to hide the deeper scandal. If the old DNA tests are indeed found to be unreliable, the consequences would be enormous. Countless convicts would challenge the evidence used in their cases and flood the courts with appeals, and the state’s reputation would be marred.
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