John Lyon of Stephens Media follows up on the state Crime Lab's effort to adopt policies that explain why it fast-tracks some cases and not others.
The issue arose over questions raised about the speed with which the Lab analyzed evidence in the killing of Little Rock TV anchor Anne Pressly compared with longer waits for other cases. A recent legislative audit found that the lab's policies remain vague.
The audit found that the lab has a written policy stating that cases are to be analyzed in chronological order unless the investigative agency or a court officer makes a request for priority. However, a review of case turnaround times found that in several instances cases were treated as priorities without any documented request from an investigator or a judge.
The auditors recommended that the crime lab formalize the criteria and process it uses to prioritize cases.
“It said that we were vague,” [lab director Kermit] Channell said in an interview last week. “Well, yes, we are vague. We’ve never had to have something in black and white saying, ‘We’re going to do these things always.’ The reason it’s important we’re somewhat vague on that is every case is different, and I have an obligation as director of the laboratory to listen to the requests of agencies.”