State crime lab chemist resigns amidst probe of missing drug evidence

Criminal Justice

State crime lab chemist resigns amidst probe of missing drug evidence

Feb 4, 2014, 05:15 pm CST

A chemist in the Florida state crime lab resigned Monday, amidst an investigation into missing drug evidence.

The state is looking into 2,600 cases handled by the chemist, whose identity has not been publicly confirmed, the Associated Press reports.

“We will be conducting a thorough investigation to see if each and every case was handled properly,” said State Attorney Bill Eddins, whose district includes the Pensacola facility at issue.

Illegal prescription drugs are missing, with harmless pills substituted for them, authorities said. It’s not clear what period of time is at issue.

Depending on the scope of the problem, the matter could call into question the evidence used in a large number of criminal cases, particularly if the lab’s chain-of-custody procedures are determined to be inadequate.

Criminal defense lawyers told the news agency that the chemist probe could lead to widespread challenges and retesting of evidence in current and former Florida criminal cases.

Related coverage: “In wake of crime lab scandal, ACLU asks top state court for dismissal of 40,000 cases”

ABA Journal: “Crime labs under the microscope after a string of shoddy, suspect and fraudulent results”

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