For 21 years, a key group of North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents tasked with interpreting bloodstain patterns at crime scenes operated on their own, without leadership or written policies, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The News & Observer requested a copy of the bloodstain analysis policy in July. The state justice department, which oversees the SBI, provided it last week; it was dated October 2009, eight weeks after the acquittal of a dentist highlighted shoddy bloodstain analysis.
The longtime lack of policy is “astounding,” said Marilyn Miller, a professor of forensic science at Virginia Commonwealth University. “If you are a reputable unit, you have written procedures for everything you do.” Dozens of cases where SBI bloodstain analysts testified are under question, she said. Yesterday, state Attorney General Roy Cooper appointed an interim director of the SBI lab while a national search for a permanent director continues. The temporary director is Gerald Arnold, retired chief judge of the N.C. Court of Appeals.