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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

State Police Lab Target of Defense Counsel's Department of Justice Complaint

In early November, I attended an excellent panel discussion on the topic of medical marijuana put on by the Oakland County Bar Association; the 1/2 day seminar addressed the topic from the perspective of medical marijuana card holders that desired to legally grow their businesses along with their pot. The panel had an all-star cast, including our friend, preeminent defense lawyer Neil Rockind.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Mr. Rockind told the packed room to be on the lookout for a big-news-splash coming soon on the topic of blood testing for marijuana. The following month, Rockind, along with two other well-known medical marijuana lawyers, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Investigative & Forensic Sciences.

The primary thrust of this complaint accuses the Michigan State Police crime laboratory with negligence and, worse, intentional deceit. The complaint, in a 7-page letter to the DOJ forensic office's director, alleges that the lab is influenced by the state prosecutor's association in its method of reporting lab results such that a report that would normally support a misdemeanor charge [i.e. use of marijuana, or driving under the influence of drugs] is elevated to a felony [i.e. possession or manufacture of synthetic marijuana].

In doing so, Rockind characterizes the prosecutor's influence, in getting the lab to deviate from established scientific principles, as political; the crime lab has become politicized. The result is that a scientific lab now produces forensic reports that support a felony rather than a misdemeanor conviction.

Toward the end of the complaint, Rockind requests an audit by the DOJ's forensic office pursuant to General Accountability Office standards, as well as a Michigan State Police internal affairs investigation, apparently already underway.

If his allegations are proven, then it does give us grave concerns over here at the Law Blogger that forensic crime labs, tasked with getting to the scientific truths of a specific case, can be influenced in their reporting methods by a political organization like the prosecutor's association. We will certainly monitor this file as it moves through the DOJ.

Post #521

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