Handwriting analysis is a forensic science, used to determine who wrote something like a suicide note, a threatening document, or a forged contract for example. But the analysts in the Oregon State Police’s handwriting unit are under suspension and embroiled in a potentially career-costing review.
According to KMTR, the allegations first came to light when analysts Ron Emmons and Christina Kelley disagreed on what led to faulty findings in a murder-for-hire case. Technically, the two analysts are supposed to double-check each other’s work to ensure they come to the same conclusions. In this case, however, Kelley said she knew Emmons’ findings were wrong but was scared to tell him because he had been threatening to her before. Instead, she called the lab director the next morning to tell him that Emmons submitted false findings.
The case of the handwriting analysts involves a lot of he said/she said allegations and denials. But it has resulted in both analysts being suspended as many of their cases are reviewed to ensure no one innocent went to prison for similar mistakes.
Experts from outside Oregon are investigating 35 cases in all. The state of Washington, who used Emmons on 40 cases, is awaiting the findings before ordering a similar review.
Forensic sciences like this need to be exact, with as few errors as possible. This is why the analysts were told to go behind each other, a regulation Kelley says she was never told about.
When someone’s freedom and reputation are on the line, the findings of any crime lab must be airtight. If a problem like this arises, where there are questions as to the integrity of all of the lab’s findings, numerous cases can be thrown in limbo.
Not only could innocent people have been locked up due to similar mistakes by the lab analysts, but suspects who were actually guilty may have gone free. Lab mix-ups can create all kinds of problems.
Whether you are accused of forgery and depending on a handwriting analyst to clear your name, or if you are charged with a drug offense and the evidence is in a state drug lab—the evidence could mean the difference between you spending years in prison and walking away scott-free.
If you are charged with a crime, you need a Oregon defense attorney on your side. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.