Nassau County, N.Y., closed its problem-plagued crime lab after court testimony suggested that drug-testing screw-ups were allegedly ignored for years, leaving thousands of cases in jeopardy. The New York Post calls it an unprecedented move that is the latest black mark on the beleaguered county. The drastic step means that Nassau, drowning in an ocean of red ink, will ship its drug evidence to a private lab in Pennsylvania.
Ballistics evidence will go to a state police lab until a new Nassau County facility can be staffed and equipped — which may take months, says District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Defense attorneys have filed motions in more than a dozen cases questioning whether clients got fair treatment. Rice conceded that some convictions could be overturned. So far, only drug purity tests have been found inaccurate; they can mean the difference between felony and misdemeanor charges. Nearly 9,000 drug cases dating to late 2007 are being reviewed for signs of errors after a spot check last week of nine cases involving ketamine or “ecstasy” found that six of them were inaccurately analyzed.