Unethical Conduct in the Crime Lab

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Juan Buitrago
Professor Baumann
Term Paper
April 23, 2013
“If the law has made you a witness, Remain a man of science. You have no victim to avenge, No guilty or innocent person to convict or save -- You must bear testimony within the limits of science.” These are the words from a French Medico legalist, Dr. P.C.H. Brouardel. Anyone well educated in the science field can say that these words pretty much sum up what it is to be ethical and how to act in a laboratory. There are also three important aspects to follow according to the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board in order to be seen as a performing laboratory with professional and ethical conduct. These qualities are professionalism, competency and proficiency, and clear communications. Unfortunately for many cases where people were found guilty these rules in the laboratory weren’t entirely met. There are many cases of unethical conduct in the laboratory, ending up in serious consequences to the scientist and the facility itself.

One of the cases portraying unethical conduct that affected the accused could be the one of Jeff Pierce who was released in 2009 being found innocent with DNA testing. Pierce had already been serving fifteen years in prison for rape before being found innocent; Pierce had no prior criminal convictions. The Pierce case commenced investigations on many others found guilty with evidence examined by scientist Joyce Gilchrist, the one responsible for providing incomplete and false evidence in Pierce’s case. The FBI examined the cases including pierce’s finding that there were "errors in identification," and that lab notes were "incomplete or inadequate". Pierce even stated that he voluntarily provided hair and blood samples; five minutes later he was told it was a match and that he was going to prison. At trial Gilchrist even stated to jurors that she found dozens of hairs that were consistent and were a positive identification....
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