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Contested Cases Mount Against Nassau Crime Lab


In this Dec. 2010 photo released by the Nassau County Police Department via Newsday, an interior view of the Nassau County crime laboratory is shown. (AP Photo)

More than three dozen motions have been filed as of last Friday to contest convictions and active cases involving evidence processed by the troubled Nassau County police crime lab.


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The challenges filed include 18 driving-while-intoxicated cases, eight drug-related cases and 16 cases prosecutors classified as “miscellaneous,” according to a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. And those are just the beginning.

“People are trying to hold off to see what the investigation reveals,” said William Kephart, a Garden City-based criminal defense attorney who is president of the Nassau Criminal Court Bar Association, referring to the five-week-old probe into the crime lab by New York State Inspector General Ellen Biben.

Those not waiting to see what the review reveals before filing appeals include ex-Marine James Farr, who was convicted last November of driving drunk in a 2009 crash that killed two brothers crossing a Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow. He’s serving 12 years in prison.

The challenges—some reportedly dating back to 1991—were expected since a judge ordered a retrial for Erin Marino based on questions about crime lab record keeping in DWI cases. The 30-year-old Hicksville woman had been convicted last summer of drunken driving and vehicular assault.

Prosecutors are expected to appeal the decision.

Officials had closed the crime lab in February after allegations that police supervisors disregarded warnings about false drug-test results. Prosecutors have sent out up to 3,000 felony drug cases for re-testing following the revelations.

A Pennsylvania-based facility is handling the county’s evidence and re-testing while upgrades are made in the county crime lab, which had its accreditation suspended in December.

Aside from Farr, five of the motions were reportedly filed by inmates serving time, according to Newsday.

“Even assuming some dramatic increase that we’ve yet to see, we expect to be able to handle each challenge with the resources and attention normally focused on a case,” Rice said in a statement.

With Associated Press

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