Reaction to Stan Garnett on the CDPHE lab failure

Dear Editor (Daily Camera, Boulder Colorado, 6/12/2012)

I believe that our District Attorney, Stan Garnett, is an honest, ethical, and trustworthy prosecutor.  As a defense attorney, "on the other side," I hold him in high esteem.  There is no question that his interest is in treating people honestly and appropriately.  On the specific issue of the disastrous evaluation of our CDPHE state lab, and the proficiency test failure by the same lab,  I believe that he does not yet fully appreciated the immensity of the problem.  We have a fundamental failure of our state lab to function properly in multiple ways on multiple test methodologies.

In a 43 page report, page after page excoriates the lab in areas such as training, security of forensic blood samples and record keeping.  While District Attorney Garnett points to cases in which a CDPHE former employee, Cindy Burbach, testified at trial, that merely (unintentionally) diverts us from the real issue.   VERY few DUI cases go to trial.  They are resolved by a plea bargain-agreement based in large part upon our trust in the state's lab, and in the DA and the defense reasonably trusting the test results supplied us by the CDPHE lab.  

The systemic problems at the CDPHE lab includes blood alcohol and drug testing.  Even breath test machines in our County and over the state are calibrated from a standard calibrated by the very system in the same CDPHE lab that performed so poorly.

For all of our sakes, I wish this was a problem that reached only two cases in Boulder County.

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