A close look at the local news shows that the toxicology lab in Washington have had some serious shortcomings:
September 2000: State Patrol forensic scientist John Brown resigns while under investigation for concealing an error on a DNA test.
November 2001: Forensic scientist Michael Hoover confesses to sniffing heroin from evidence samples, pleads guilty to two misdemeanors and receives an 11-month jail sentence.
November 2002: Forensic scientist Arnold Melnikoff is placed on paid leave while under internal investigation after a complaint about his role in two wrongful rape convictions in Montana. He is accused of providing incorrect hair-analysis testimony.
April 2003: An internal audit of 100 drug-analysis tests done by Melnikoff finds flaws with 30 cases, something Melnikoff disputes.
March 2004: State Patrol fires Melnikoff.
July 2004: A P-I investigation documents that DNA errors and contamination by forensic scientists are a recurring problem in the crime lab.
December 2004: Forensic scientist Charles Vaughan’s lab work and testimony played a role in the state of Oregon’s murder case against two men who were wrongfully convicted in the 1980s, the P-I reports.
July 2007: Ann Marie Gordon, who managed the toxicology lab in Seattle since 2000, resigns after being accused of signing false statements related to ensuring the accuracy of breath-test machines.
This is the problem with Toxicology cases in Washington State: evidence presented to a jury who view that evidence as being absolute scientific fact. But as several cases in the state of Washington demonstrate, CSI technicians for Washington State are far from infallible. In fact it is quite easy for a lab technician to put their finger on the scales of justice.