Curiosity, Luck Exposed St. Paul Crime LabJul 30, 2012
By Chao Xiong
Dakota County public defenders Lauri Traub, left, and Christine Funk are responsible for discovering widespread problems with the St. Paul crime lab. Courtesy of Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune
Public defender Lauri Traub wanted to know more about her client's drug file when she went to the St. Paul crime lab in March. Instead she stumbled upon systemic failings that are now forcing major overhauls while casting widespread skepticism regarding the lab.
How did a public defender who moonlights as a waitress on weekends, a colleague better versed in DNA than drugs, and an unpaid college intern take down a crime lab responsible for thousands of cases?
"I think sometimes people have the impression we set about doing this to take down the crime lab, or we set about doing this because defense attorneys are trying to get their clients off," Traub said. "We went down there thinking the science was good."
The attorneys are challenging the lab's results in eight drug cases in Dakota County District Court, where testimony last week by lab staff revealed a lack of oversight, training and documentation of evidence-handling and testing procedures. Basic scientific standards were not followed, defense experts testified.
Source: Star Tribune