Regional
10:32 am
Fri March 11, 2011

NM Crime Lab Has 500 Case Backlog

New Mexico – Hundreds of drug and drunken driving cases are waiting to be processed at the Scientific Laboratory Division within the state Department of Health. The lab blames a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and a staffing shortage for the backlog.

Lab director David Mills tells the Albuquerque Journal nationally accepted standards for doing forensic drug testing should take four to eight weeks, depending on the case.

Instead, Mills says 500 cases have been sitting untested for longer than eight weeks.

Mills says a U.S. Supreme Court ruling mandating that lab technicians be available to testify in cases they handle has significantly increased the time that analysts must spend in court.

The lab is also short personnel. It's had seven openings since May.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.