North Carolina Bureau of Investigation Charged With False Reports, Including in Capital Cases

A government-ordered audit of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation found that the agency falsely reported blood evidence in dozens of cases, including three that ended in executions. The inquiry, ordered by Attorney General Roy Cooper, found that SBI agents improperly aided prosecutors for over a 16-year period, calling into question convictions in 230 criminal cases. Duane Deaver, a veteran SBI analyst who performed the work in five particularly troubling cases, has been suspended pending further investigation. According to the audit, SBI lab reports omitted or overstated important information about test results that would have been favorable to the defense. The report blames the flaws on “poorly crafted policy, inattention to reporting methods which permitted too much analyst subjectivity; and ineffective management and oversight.” The state Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that lab notes are evidence that should be made available to the defense. According to the report, however, “that did not happen for several reasons, including a mindset, led by a section chief, that the lab’s main customer was law enforcement.” North Carolina’s News & Observer just completed a four-part investigative series into the SBI entitled “Agents’ Secrets: Junk Science, Tainted Testimony at SBI.”

(M. Locke, J. Neff and A. Curliss, “Under fire, SBI blood analyist suspended,” Charlotte News & Observer, August 18, 2010). See Arbitrariness and Studies.