In January of last year, New York City's medical examiner's office announced that it was reviewing more than 800 rape cases between 2002 and 2011. The probe stems from the discovery that a lab technician who resigned in 2011 mishandled DNA evidence. This issue was first reported in the New York Times.
More than two dozen instances have already been unearthed where 55-year old Serrita Mitchell failed to detect DNA evidence that was present in these samples. In 19 other cases, the DNA evidence was comingled with similar evidence in other cases. In one case, the discovery of Mitchell's error led to an arrest in connection with a ten-year old rape file.
But the inappropriate behavior in the New York City lab wasn't limited to one lab tech. In April of that year, a high-ranking deputy in the same office resigned after it became known that she didn't follow departmental protocol in at least two instances. Dr. Theresa Caragine, who helped pioneer a controversial DNA testing method, reportedly had two staffers disagree with her test results; but instead of taking the case to the technical leader of the department, she simply overruled the staffers.
City officials insist that no innocent people have been convicted based on the wrongdoing discovered at the medical examiner's office. But given these revelations, it's difficult to place a great deal of faith in what their lab results may be in any future case.