Massachusetts crime lab withheld exculpatory evidence in DUI cases, report finds

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The leader of a Massachusetts crime lab that certifies the reliability of drunken-driving breath tests has been fired after a report found the office routinely withheld exculpatory evidence from defense lawyers since 2011.

Melissa O’Meara, who was technical leader of the Office of Alcohol Testing, was fired on Monday, report the Boston Globe and the Associated Press. A retired judge will be hired to advise the office on how to handle future discovery requests.

The investigation was prompted by lawyers representing about 750 defendants who complained in a lawsuit that the office was withholding documents about the maintenance and calibration of the breath test machines.

The report found that the lab provided basic information in response to discovery requests. But the office withheld worksheets and documents that sometimes showed a device had failed to calibrate at some point during certification, or that showed how many times the device had been repaired.

The report said the office’s discovery responses “appeared to have been designed to minimize disclosure.”

See also:

ABA Journal (2013): “Crime labs under the microscope after a string of shoddy, suspect and fraudulent results”




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