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Lab Mistake Cost the State the Conviction

Lab Mistake Cost the State the Conviction

In a felony trafficking case of opium a veteran chemist of some thirty-four years with the State lab, admitted under oath that he had not tested all of the pills submitted.  The chemist went on to state under oath that he had conducted a chemical analysis on about half of the items submitted and the remaining tablets were identified solely by visual inspection based on knowledge learned from medical journals regarding identity of prescribed medication (State v. Ward, 364 N.C. 133, 694 S.E.2d 738 (2010)).  Defense counsel was quick to point out that the law for trafficking counts of controlled substances are based on specific amounts of drugs in one’s possession.  Therefore, it is important to show that all the pills, that go into meeting the threshold amounts for trafficking charges, have been properly tested rendering a positive result for a particular controlled substance.  The Court agreed and held that a visual inspection was insufficiently reliable to support his expert opinion that all the pills were in fact controlled substances (Id at 147, 694 S.E.2d at 747).

2011-05-04T01:04:38+00:00