In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed the controversy surrounding North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) crime lab. The state laboratory came under fire last month after a long-time SBI chemist testified that the SBI lab would sometimes only analyze the physical characteristics of the drug in identification rather than performing chemical analysis. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the visual inspection of drugs was not sufficiently reliable in North Carolina drug charge cases.
Further, the SBI has been accused of concealing evidence, being biased towards law enforcement and employing analysts with little scientific training.
Now, Gerald Arnold, the man appointed to help the lab regain credibility, has decided not to take the job. Arnold, a former chief judge of the state Appeals Court, stated that he would not be able to commit to such a long-term endeavor. Arnold claimed that the job required “more than a 70-year-old man was up to right now.”
Arnold was appointed by Attorney General Roy Cooper to serve as interim director of the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab earlier this month. As part of his duties, Arnold was charged with reviewing all sections of the crime lab. The focus was to ensure that accurate results were produced and reported properly. At a news conference where he announced Arnold’s appointment, Cooper stressed the importance of restoring public confidence in the crime lab.
Arnold’s decision to leave is a source of frustration for state officials, according to a spokeswoman for the attorney general. However, she further stated that a replacement has already been identified and could be confirmed soon.
Last month, an independent review called for an examination of 190 criminal cases that may have been mishandled by the SBI. The review revealed that information that could have been helpful for defendants was withheld or misrepresented.
Source: WRAL.com “Interim chief of SBI crime lab backs away from job” 9/30/10