Don’t accept the forensic science at face value

Here in NZ the Police are now stopping people who they suspect may be driving whilst impaired through the use of drugs. I’ve written before about drug driving and the impairment tests and I again reiterate the importance of not accepting the blood sample analytical results at face value, particularly in relation to cannabis. Lawyers in NZ seem to accept the science as reported by ESR in casework at face value. Whilst I’m not suggesting that ESR mis-reports any science, it must be remembered that the scientists at ESR base their reports on the information provided to them by the Police. Quite often a Defendant will be willing to tell something to their lawyer that they weren’t prepared to tell the Police – for whatever reason. This can have a marked effect on the interpretation.
Rather than leave it to chance for cross-examination in the witness box, lawyers should be asking experts to re-examine the science. Without such re-examination, re-interpretation is left to the scientific knowledge of the lawyers….
I have been unable to find an independent forensic toxicologist in New Zealand – it must therefore be accepted that if the Defence is to have a level playing field in court, funding must be provided for an independent Expert based overseas.
Many people will think that most people who are arrested for any reason are guilty of some crime, so does it really matter whether or not they get Experts to speak for their side of the story? Isn’t it just a waste of taxpayers money? But just remember that anyone can get arrested – wouldn’t you want access to good Experts if you, or one of your family, children or friends was arrested and charged with a criminal offence?

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