You might recall that in August, a Superior Court judge threw out blood-sample evidence in 11 Scottsdale DUI cases. The judge believed the laboratory’s blood-testing equipment was not reliable in those cases.
However, prosecutors and law enforcement insist that the Scottsdale Police Crime Lab’s results can be trusted and should be admissible in court.
Now the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has filed a challenge to the judge’s ruling, claiming that the jurist didn’t understand Arizona’s evidence admissibility rules. Also, the County Attorney claims those few cases that were thrown out are not an indication that the system has broken down.
The blood-testing machine has been used on more than 20,000 tests over the past two years, prosecutors point out.
“A handful of errors among more than two years of tests and over 21,000 injections by the gas chromatograph at issue here do not a catastrophe make,” the County Attorney’s motion stated, in part.
Attorneys who defend people accused of driving under the influence of alcohol are not entirely convinced the lab’s results can be trusted. Some of those attorneys say that if defendants had not hired capable, experienced DUI defense lawyers, lab employees might still be unaware of equipment failures at the lab.
The defense attorneys also point out that lab employees have at times admitted they were oblivious to some errors until defense lawyers pointed out the mistakes to them.
The County Attorney’s Office was unable to say if the cases noted in Scottsdale were just a few errors that had gone unnoticed, or whether the blood-testing lab had gone through the nearly 21,000 cases to determine if the problems were limited or not.
Prosecutors are, of course, worried that the lab problems in the cases at issue could be used to throw out other DUI accusations and convictions.
We will continue, of course, to monitor this story.