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Wednesday, October 17, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Lawyers group urges forensic probe of state's toxicology and crime labs

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is calling for an investigation into the state's toxicology and crime labs after two high-ranking scientists resigned amid allegations that they were performing shoddy work.

On Monday, the association sent a letter to the state Forensics Council requesting that it perform an independent investigation into the State Patrol labs. The letter cited "strong concerns that serious negligence or misconduct committed by employees or contractors of the Washington State Patrol Toxicology Lab or Crime Lab has substantially affected the integrity of forensics results in Washington State."

The state crime lab has been under fire after allegations that Ann Marie Gordon, former toxicology-lab manager, falsely claimed to have verified solutions used for breath-testing in drunken-driving cases and destroyed blood vials in an attempt to mask wrongdoing.

Problems at the state toxicology lab already have led Department of Licensing examiners to reinstate licenses for 36 people statewide who were arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

In April, Evan Thompson, a forensic scientist who provided crucial testimony in more than 1,000 shooting cases during the past decade, resigned from the State Patrol after his work allegedly contained serious errors.

The State Patrol hired a contractor to review the ballistics expert's work.

Barry Logan, director of the State Patrol's Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, said Thompson's work is still under investigation. He said no cases have been overturned because of Thompson.

Logan said the Forensics Investigations Council has been involved in "the issues that have come to light" involving Gordon and Thompson. He said he has no problem with the council investigating.

The Forensic Investigations Council is responsible for looking into allegations of negligence or misconduct in forensic work.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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