State legislators, troubled by reports of botched DNA tests and other mistakes by forensic analysts, are establishing oversight commissions to improve local crime labs and coroner’s offices, reports USA Today. Virginia and Texas, where a lab technician mistakenly implicated the wrong man in a rape case, passed laws last year setting up such commissions. Legislators in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Minnesota now are considering similar plans.
Illinois may require state and private labs to be accredited by a professional crime lab group. Oklahoma has had such a measure for three years. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney revived the state’s dormant oversight panel after a pair of eyes critical to a murder investigation were reported missing from a lab in 2002. The American Judicature Society, a non-partisan policy research group of judges, attorneys, and academics, begins a three-day conference in Greensboro, N.C., today to establish recommendations for crime lab practices. The conference’s co-chairs include former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno and former federal judge and CIA and FBI director William Webster.