The NC State Crime Lab is conducting a customer satisfaction survey. The survey will be open until Aug. 31, 2018. Filling out the survey will allow the NC State Crime Lab to get feedback on your interactions with them over the past year.
The survey is short and should not take much time to complete. It contains questions about Forensic Update, Forensic Advantage, and about the quality of interactions with the lab itself. You can fill out the survey using this link.
The North Carolina State Crime Laboratory has shared its current and archived/historical procedures with IDS, which will facilitate attorney access to these procedures and improves transparency in how evidence is tested and processed in the Lab. Attorneys who need access to the lab procedures in their cases now have several options to locate these procedures.
Current lab procedures are available from the Crime Lab at http://www.ncdoj.gov/About-DOJ/Crime-Lab/ISO-Procedures.aspx.
IDS previously placed many of the archived procedures online at http://www.ncids.com/forensic/labs/labs.asp. However, this IDS online library of archived procedures may have gaps as there are now over 4,000 archived procedures. If you need an archived lab procedure that you cannot find on the IDS website, you can email Sarah Olson at Sarah.R.Olson@nccourts.org for access to the procedures that the Crime Lab shared recently.
Finally, lab procedures may be requested through discovery.
When reading lab procedures in order to better understand how evidence was tested in a case, attorneys should be mindful to refer to the procedures that were in place at the time that the lab tested case evidence.
Sarah Jessica Farber is the new Ombudsman to the NC State Crime Laboratory. As Ombudsman, her job responsibilities include addressing public concerns about the Crime Lab and making recommendations to the Attorney General about any changes needed at the Crime Lab. The Ombudsman serves as a liaison with all criminal justice system actors and is available to defense attorneys who have questions or feedback about the lab. More information about the role of the Ombudsman is available here.
Prior to joining the Crime Lab, Farber served as a magistrate in Wake County. Earlier in her career, she worked as a criminal defense attorney, both with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services and with her own private practice. She can be reached at email@example.com.
In some cases where an attorney has been retained, the defendant may exhaust their funds and not be able to pay for expert assistance that is needed in the case. The ability for a defendant to access expert witness assistance is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but attorneys for may be unsure about the process for obtaining funding for expert assistance when the client has become indigent during the course of the representation.
When defendants who have been able to hire counsel become indigent over the course of representation, they have to motion in order to be allowed the usage of state funds to hire investigators and expert witnesses. To help attorneys secure expert assistance on behalf of an indigent client, IDS has put together a template motion for indigency. The motion can be filed as a stand-alone motion or it can be incorporated into the motion for funding for an expert that is described below. The template can be accessed here.
In addition to the motion for indigency, counsel in non-capital cases must submit Form AOC-G-309 and an ex parte motion for the appointment of an expert in order to obtain funding for an expert for an indigent client. In potentially capital cases, Form IDS-028 must be submitted along with the motion for indigency to the Office of the Capital Defender. These forms and sample motions for the appointment of an expert can be found here.
IDS thanks Davis & Davis, Attorneys at Law for their assistance with this motion!