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letters | lessons from drug lab scandal

Forensics advisory board needs to be revamped

Governor Patrick’s swift call for a “war room” of stakeholders to address the crisis at one of the state’s drug labs and his administration’s distribution of a master list of affected cases are exemplary responses (“Gov. Patrick, district attorneys discuss state drug lab crisis,” Metro, Sept. 12). The same collaborative approach to ensuring scientific integrity and high performance standards should be institutionalized in the Forensic Sciences Advisory Board.

While the state’s forensic service agencies ultimately report to the governor, since 2004 they have been advised by this board, seven of whose eight statutorily mandated members are law-enforcement personnel and none of whom is a scientist.

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Pending legislation, introduced by state Senator Cynthia Creem, Democrat of Newton, was initially proposed by a 2009 Boston Bar Association task force. It would expand the advisory board to include three scientists, a public defender, and two private defense lawyers.

Having everyone at the table is essential in a crisis. Having them there all the time might help avoid the next one.

David M. Siegel


The writer, a professor of law and co-director of the Center for Law and Social Responsibility at New England Law, was a member of the 2009 task force.

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