IN Testing Errors on Criminal Case Evidence Go Back 7 Years


Testing errors at the Indiana toxicology lab go back at least seven years — much further than previously reported — according to internal emails obtained by the Indianapolis Star. The emails call into question whether Indiana University’s medical school provided adequate oversight of the lab that tests blood and urine samples for criminal cases.

The roughly 2,000 emails are correspondence to and from Peter Method, the acting director of the state Department of Toxicology from 2003 to 2008. They portray a dysfunctional lab beset by inadequate staffing and funding that produced an environment ripe for errors. There was a pattern of incorrect test results — including the kind that could lead to people being denied or escaping justice — from 2004 to 2006. A current audit found the lab sent out out, on average, a flawed marijuana result every 3.28 days and a false positive marijuana result once every 18 days. Based on the emails alone, the Star found documentation of 26 bad test results from 2004 to 2006 that were reported to law enforcement. Of those, 12 were false positives — findings that might have compromised the rights of Hoosiers. The other 14 were false negatives that might have prevented law enforcement from charging guilty people.

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