Journal-Sentinel


September 10, 2008

Complaint Filed Regarding Big Errors At State Crime Lab
Mick Trevey
Katie DeLong

MILWAUKEE - In courtrooms across Wisconsin, juries listen to a lot of evidence from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab. The evidence includes things like fingerprints, DNA and hair left at crime scenes.

However, in a complaint filed Tuesday, we're learning about big problems at the crime lab.

For example, an employee at the Milwaukee bureau of the crime lab made up results. He "falsified the data" in a case by saying a finger print didn't match anyone in a database before he knew whether it did or not.

In March of 2006, an employee at the Madison bureau of the lab was suspended for being "intoxicated" on the job.

That happens to be around the time the lab was testing evidence in one of the most high profile cases in recent memory: the murder trial against Steven Avery. Avery is in prison for life because of the case.

“I can guarantee you that nobody, whether it's the state, or any other expert is going to say that's proper procedure to be handling sensitive evidence while you're intoxicated,” defense attorney Jerry Buting said.

Tuesday's complaint against the crime lab was filed by Buting, a lawyer from Brookfield. He represented Avery, but he filed Tuesday's complaint as a private citizen, not for any particular case.

“Forensic results from crime labs are very powerful evidence. They can wrongly convict, they can rightly convict, or they can wrongly exclude people and allow the guilty perpetrator to go free,” Buting said.

The attorney general's office gave us a written response to the complaint saying they're "mindful of the great public trust placed in the Department of Justice."

They say they'll review the complaint.


Junk Science
Truth in Justice