Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member andpartner
A relatively recent investigative report by the Washington Post discovered that the Justice Department may have known for years that forensic evidence used to convict some innocent people may have been based on flawed forensic evidence and weak laboratory standards. Investigations revealed that the forensic evidence used in court trials was the often the product of agent errors, weak standards, lack of lab protocol, and limited sampling. In some of the cases, agents were advised to only produce the forensic evidence to support the desired conclusion of the case. As a result, the impartiality needed for a fair trial was lacking, possibly leading to innocent people being convicted and imprisoned. More alarming than the original lab mistakes was the failure to notify the defendants or their attorneys in the trials that relied on forensic evidence from these labs.
In 2009, in an article in the NY Times, the National Academy of Sciences released a report revealing many of the weaknesses in relying on forensic evidence from a flawed system. Recommendations from that report include establishing a federal agency to upgrade and standardize the policies and procedures that police and prosecutors use. Although forensic evidence has become more popular in recent years, it may not always be reliable, and it should never be manipulated or withheld.
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About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year” (2011). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2010)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.