Tevlin: Lawyers' detective work must be commended

  • Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2012 - 8:42 PM
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  • Comments

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  • 1 - 6 of 6
JenneaneJJul. 28, 12 8:12 PM

You go, GRRRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLZZZZZZ. Signed, A former public defender... :-)

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ussforrestalJul. 29, 1212:18 AM

The Ryan Braun defense jumped from sports to the real world! Bravo! Lets let drug dealers off now because the lab doesn't clean equipment often enough.

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swmnguyJul. 29, 1211:36 AM

It's really too bad so few of us are adequately educated in science. Most of us get our information from entertainment media, and shows like "CSI." As a result, we misunderstand what is and is not objective. We give misplaced credit to "miracle workers," and we don't understand what really is involved.

DNA testing is a great example. A human being has to decide that two DNA profiles match. As happened in the Oklahoma City crime lab a few years ago, the human beings making that decision had no idea what they were doing, and just said the samples matched, no matter what. Tests with unclean equipment yield tainted data, which is then interpreted by people who work for the same entity that employes the police, investigators and prosecutors. Guess which way judgement calls go?

Fingerprint evidence is so subjective, it turns out, that it is not admissable in some courts anymore. You're not likely to hear that from prosecutors, however.

Most of the problems in crime labs come from sloppiness. Budget cuts have made it impossible to attract and retain the best scientists, and have dramatically diminished standards. Why are there so few accredited crime labs in Minnesota? Because it would cost money to do it right. The State (police, prosecutors, investigators) in our adversarial system has incentive to produce evidence that helps them win cases, not to determine what actually happened. Defendants don't have the money to challenge faulty evidence, and often courts deny them the right to do so in the first place.

Anyone who believes that Justice is more important than Power should applaud these public defenders, and demand that we instate standards for our crime labs at least as stringent as we have in middle-school science classes.

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davehougJul. 30, 1211:07 AM

Why are there so few accredited crime labs in Minnesota? Because it would cost money to do it right. - - - Bite the bullet, do it right and FUND the oversight board.

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rafannonJul. 31, 1211:20 AM

Why is this public defender having to work as a waitress in the evening? Why is she paid so poorly and probably has a huge case load... these lawyers represent the poor when they need legal help... shows exactly what the public thinks of the poor... pay these women what they are worth... alot more !!!

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codger1016Jul. 31, 12 8:22 PM

rafannon.... I agree with you, but I'm guessing these women, while they would appreciate the extra pay, would gladly give it up if the money would go to hiring more public defenders. They are so overworked because their budgets have been sliced very thin over the past decade.

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