Motherisk Lab in Toronto

Rachel Mendleson of the Toronto Star published an investigative article last week detailing how the Motherisk scandal is still affecting the life of a mother whose child was wrongfully removed from their home. In 2015, the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory was closed because its tests were being conducted by analysts without forensic training and it was producing unreliable results. Mendleson specifically focuses on a mother named Joyce (who had her last name withheld), who in 1998, was sentenced to almost two years of jail and had her son taken from her after a Motherisk hair test of her son supposedly showed that he had ingested cocaine.

Despite uncovering the Motherisk closing in 2015, Mendleson reports that Joyce was not informed that her case may have been impacted by the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory’s inadequate testing. Mendleson also notes that issues with Motherisk testing were apparent as early as 1993, when Motherisk hair test results were excluded from the murder trial of Allen Thomas Jr. in Colorado. Joyce’s conviction occurred in 1998 – five years after the results of Thomas’s hair test were excluded because of the shortfalls of the Motherisk lab.

Mendleson’s article is available at


Published by BGarrett

Professor of Law, Duke University

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