Public defenders challenging the validity of cases involving the St. Paul
Police Crime Lab asked a judge Friday, May 3, to throw out drug evidence handled
by the lab, saying poor procedures tainted it beyond admissibility.
Prosecutors said there's no evidence that happened -- and that Friday's
hearing wasn't the proper place to settle the issue.
The hearing was supposed to focus on whether testing devices in the lab,
which independent reports said were in poor condition and were used improperly,
could have contaminated other evidence with dust and other refuse from the drugs
Lauri Traub, a public defender representing a handful of defendants, said
concerns over those machines and the overall condition of the lab rendered
evidence that entered the lab tainted and inadmissible in court.
She pointed to recent Texas Court of Appeals cases in which the court threw
out drug evidence from a lab where an analyst used improper procedures and
barred retests of the same evidence by other labs because it might be
Traub asked Dakota County District Judge Kathryn Messerich to apply a similar
But Dakota County Chief Deputy Attorney Phil Prokopowicz said that while
contamination was possible, "there's no evidence of it" in the case at hand.
Retests of crime lab evidence haven't shown traces of other drugs or evidence of
contamination, he said.