Thursday, December 08, 2011

Cellmark's record

I have no doubt that Cellmark runs very proficient labs. But blog reader Patsy Myers points out that if you do a search for "Cellmark falsified evidence" you come up with a pretty substantial set of problems that they have encountered in the past. For example, the company has not been immune to professional misconduct affecting multiple cases.
And consider one case in which a Cellmark analyst discovered an error while testifying in court. Apparently, Cellmark diminishes the importance of this episode by pointing out that it did in fact correct the error!

Of course, reliability is not -- or at least certainly should not be -- the point. But the fact that Cellmark has a substantial history of difficulty should, I think, give some pause even to those who are ready to make accreditation a substitute for the confrontation prescribed by the Constitution.


NativWorld Timing. Knowledge. Empowerment. said...

Regarding Accredidation Vs Confrontation... VERY Good!!

Anonymous said...

Looking at the sources you cite, I think it is an overstatement to say that Cellmark has suffered from "a pretty substantial set of problems." The one analyst who had "professional misconduct" problems overrode procedures designed to safeguard the results, but her actions did not change the result in any test, she was fired, and the incident happened seven years ago. The mis-identification errors identified were three -- two in proficiency tests from 1988 and 1989 (22 years ago, and against a backdrop of hundreds of proficiency tests since, without an error), and one from a case in 1995 (16 years ago). That must be put in the context that (a) the testing procedures and technology employed over 15 years ago, and those employed today, are completely different; and (b) Cellmark has analyzed tens of thousands of forensic samples in its history. Certainly, any system run by human beings will not be perfect. But viewed in context, it is a stretch to say that the evidence cited shows "a pretty substantial set of problems" at Cellmark.

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Anonymous said...

Having worked there I can attest that there is not actually a lot of scientific integrity. I left as I didn't wish to end up having to choose between my job and perjury.