The catalyst for change: The Annie Dookhan episode

It is unprecedented in this blog to report so many times on one event. However, this type of event needs constant and repeated discussion.

The Fukushima of Foren­sics: Annie Dookhan. Has been covered here before:

Do you know why convenience stores have security cameras?

  • to deter crime against the store;
  • to catch those who have taken money from the register;
  • to catch shoplifters;
  • to catch employees who steal from the company;
  • to see when employees leave early or come in late;
  • to record when crime happens; and
  • to aid in the prosecution of those who cheat the store or rob the store.

It seems like such a basic safeguard that there would be no legitimate argument against having it. Who would want to work in a convenience store without it? By having it there, legitimate customers feel safer and are in truth safer.

High definition and high quality cameras are around
High definition and high quality cameras are around

How about banks? They have security cameras for the same reasons.

Motion activated cameras are inexpensive.

Memory is dirt cheap.

Who can legitimately argue against these omnipresent fixtures in our lives?

In a FaceBook world, our expectation of privacy is less and less and less.

As a society, why do we have better safeguards against fraud and against crime at a 7-Eleven than we do in a crime laboratory?

The simple salient take away fact from the Annie Dookhan situation that we can all appreciate is that the traditional safeguards such as human integrity, and the Confrontation Clause will not stop the Annie Dookhans of this world. She was willing to put her hand on the Bible, swear an oath and repeatedly lie in Court about her credentials. She was willing to forge documents of her coworkers. She was willing to purposefully contaminate samples to change the results to suit her own meaningless selfish agenda. When someone is willing to do all of this and goodness knows what else, the traditional safeguards are worthless.

Confrontation cannot stop all of that. Human integrity is not a sufficient check against these transgressions.

It’s time that we just put an end to it all. It’s time we call for the ultimate forensic safeguard. Let’s video tape the labs.

I beg you to give me a legitimate reason why we should not be taping the laboratory.

Please educate me to the contrary.

One response to “The catalyst for change: The Annie Dookhan episode”

  • Deeply concerned says:

    This scandal is deeply concerning, and not simply because of one rougue chemist. How can anything that was sent to that lab, not be suspect?

    If she could intentionally falsify samples for 9 years without getting caught, what does that say about quality control? The checks and balances? The safeguards?

    How many other errors intentional or not, committed by chemists other than Annie Dookhan, were not detected, how many will never be detected?

    She was caught taking evidence out of the safe, and falsifying the signatures of the evidence officers. Are we expected to believe that the first time she decides to take evidence out of the safe, instead of taking a sample or two she took 60!!!

    How many times had she done this, without getting caught, that she felt comfortable enough to take 60 samples?

    This is absurd ! I work in an electroplating shop, where we electroplate parts for the Aerospace Industry. We have at least a Dozen 2-3 day long audits from third party companies a year.

    We have our own Lab a well. we test all of our solutions and coating properties, hundreds of them a month. If a single result is suspect, we can not just re-test the sample. First we have to determine all work potentially affected, next we have to notify all our customers of the potential failure, and hold off all work in progress.

    If it is determined that no errors were made in the original test, you can not issue a retest, you must Issue a replacement test. If the replacement test passes, all work processed from the last successful test up until the successfull retest is treated as suspect failure. Even if those parts are sitting inside of an engine to a C17 corgo carrier.

    Me still must save all the data from the original test and cross reference it the replacement test. We cant even cross out, or white out simple hand writing errors, we must write the new result above the old, then initial and date the correction.

    Ad this is for electroplating, one would think a State run test lab, who make determinations that will potentially destroy peoples lives, possibly indefinately, is not required to meet the standards of a lowly plating shop?

    If we had just 1 NCR of this significance during a systems audit, we would fail our audit, and not be eligeble to schedule a re-entry audit for at least a year!

    Truly Frightening.

    Welcome to the Dictatorship of the criminal justice system.

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