Friday, June 04, 2010

More DUI convictions suspect--this time in California

Red and blue liquids inside graduated test tubesImage by Horia Varlan via Flickr

Yet again we're reminded that lab test results used to convict individuals accused of DUI are anything but perfect. Just last week we learned that in Colorado Springs, lab test results were being thrown out due to allegations of hundreds of errors made by a lab technician. This week brings yet another example of the inaccuracy of lab test results in drunk driving cases. This time, DUI convictions in San Francisco, California may turn out to be based on lab testing that was performed improperly. In late May, the Seattle Times reported that a San Francisco coroner's supervising toxicologist, Ann Marie Gordon, had a history of improper conduct in Washington state. It was revealed that prosecutors had previously told a Washington court that, while Ms. Gordon ran the state's toxicology lab, she had been a "perpetrator of fraud." As explained in the Seattle Time article:

From 1999 to 2007, Gordon ran the Washington state toxicology lab, whose main job was to analyze tests in drunken-driving cases. The lab was shut down after state agencies discovered that Gordon had vouched in court for the reliability of alcohol-detection equipment when she had not performed the tests herself.

In San Francisco, Gordon has signed sworn statements verifying hundreds of blood-test results, mostly in drunken-driving cases...since being hired in 2008. She has also testified in trials.

Prosecutors say they were unaware of her Washington history until April.

Because of the accusations against Ms. Gordon, over 100 criminal cases were dismissed in Washington and she quit her job in 2007. Now that her prior history has come to light, pending cases in San Francisco are being subjected to greater scrutiny. This case is yet another example of the problems inherent in many of the crime laboratories across this country. Between tainted tests, sloppy lab work, and improper procedures, the accuracy of the lab test results are questionable at best. Likewise, equally as questionable are the DUI convictions resulting from these tests. We deserve better. Visit Americas Top DUI and DWI Attorneys at or call 1-800-DIAL-DUI to find a DUI OUI DWI Attorney Lawyer Now!
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