A state audit of the Indiana Department of Toxicology has raised questions about the validity of some criminal cases throughout the state.
The audit showed testing errors have plagued the Indiana State Department of Toxicology dating back to 2004, the Indianapolis Star reported.
So far, Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann said, it appears no errors have affected any Howard County cases.
The Star also reported that about 2,000 internal lab emails it obtained portray a dysfunctional lab plagued by inadequate staffing and funding that produced an environment ripe for errors. The lab tests blood and urine samples for criminal cases, and errors could lead to people being denied justice or escaping it.
McCann said he was sent a letter from the department in February, warning of the pending investigation into the tests results.
“In the letter, they said they would only contact us if there was an issue in the testing of any of our evidence, and to date, we have not been notified of any testing issues with any of our evidence,” McCann said Friday. “However, they will be continuing the audit process and hopefully it will be complete by Oct. 1.”
The emails obtained by the Indianapolis newspaper revealed a lab had a pattern of incorrect test results from 2004 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2009.
The emails are correspondence to and from Peter Method, who served as the acting director of the department from 2003 to 2008. They suggest benign neglect on the part of the Indiana University School of Medicine, which did not authorize an audit of test results until 2008, at least four years after the first testing errors were reported by email, the Star reported.
Based on the emails alone, the Star found documentation of 26 bad test results from 2004 to 2006 that were reported to law enforcement.
Of those, 12 were false positives — findings that might have compromised the rights of Indiana residents. The other 14 were false negatives that might have prevented law enforcement from charging guilty people.