Delaware CODIS Failures

An investigation into the Delaware Division of Forensic Science has yielded no criminal charges, according to an article written by Esteban Parra in the Delaware News Journal.  The investigation sprung out of the Delaware Medical Examiner’s Office failure to enter the data of more than 1,600 convicted individuals into the CODIS system. The investigation began last year after a box had been found four years earlier at the Delaware Medical Examiner’s Office, containing DNA samples from those individuals. These samples, taken between 2001 and 2012, had not been entered in CODIS.

The scandal over the unentered entries occurred while the state’s forensic science programs were administered by the state Medical Examiner’s Office. In 2014, the Division of Forensic Science in Delaware was transferred to the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security. The transfer occurred after the division was the subject of a series of scandals, including an evidence mix-up.

One of the unentered samples contained in the box was DNA taken in 2002 from an individual convicted of a sex offense, who was indicted last year for three rapes that occurred in 2010, 2014, and 2017. The 2010 and 2014 cases were considered cold by investigators before his DNA was entered in CODIS in 2014.

The State’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security addressed concerns about the data input scandal by announcing a set of reforms. According to Parra’s article, the department authorized two more individuals to put data into CODIS, and it also created a spreadsheet to track samples between their entry to the lab and their inventorying.

Parra’s write-up of the conclusion of this investigation is available at https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2019/02/11/state-no-charges-filed-over-1-600-dna-samples-not-being-entered-into-database-years/2838117002/.

Published by BGarrett

Professor of Law, Duke University

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