The recent firing of a Cuyahoga County medical examiner has many in the criminal justice community concerned about hundreds of thousands of cases processed in a Ohio crime lab. Speaking with Cleveland.com, Attorney Ian Friedman called the discovery "extremely troubling."
Gagandeep Sran was terminated earlier this year when it was discovered that a sample he had cleared for narcotics actually contained crack cocaine. It was then found that Sran was not properly following lab procedures while testing other samples, calling into question his work on evidence in thousands of criminal cases.
Attorney Friedman emphatically reiterated the importance of scientific samples in our criminal justice system, saying that they carry great weight with juries and that errors could cause false results and unjust trial outcomes. "With people's lives at stake, prosecutors and defense lawyers will have the daunting task of revisiting all the cases that may have been tested by (Sran)," he told Cleveland.com.
Uncertainties Still Remain
Judge John J. Russo, who presided over Sran's disciplinary hearing last month, issued a statement through a spokesman today stating that he could not predict if a reevaluation of Sran's work would actually affect any criminal cases. Another spokesperson for the medical examiner's office told the press that the discovery "doesn't look like it's going to affect any criminal cases."
Others, however, are waiting for all the re-testing results to come back. Of the 673 cases that Sran was responsible for that have already been re-tested (including non-criminal cases), 27 errors have already been found by lab personnel.
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