A judge has thrown out a 2010 DWI conviction in Nassau County after the discovery of errors at the police crime lab, opening the door for other court challenges based on lab mistakes.
Erin Marino's 2010 DWI conviction was thrown out Monday and a new trial ordered.
"What's clear from the judge's decision is that the problems have been going on for years, since at least 2006," said defense lawyer Brian Griffin. "The problems are pervasive ... And they compromised every area of the lab, as the judge ruled."
But prosecutors said Marino was seen driving from liquor store to liquor store before she crashed into a van carrying a boy and his parents. The boy's mother was seriously injured. Marino's blood alcohol level was said to be .18. She was convicted of DWI and vehicular assault in a bench trial in August.
In this case, the device used to measure her blood-alcohol content had not been calibrated in several years, according to Newsday. But prosecutors argued that the device, called a pipettor, was still working when it was tested.
Nassau's DA and county executive ordered the crime lab closed last month, citing errors with drug testing. It then became clear the errors had occurred in other cases beyond drug testing.
The judge said Monday that the allegations of lab mistakes are "far from being a collateral issue. It bears directly upon and is highly relevant to the integrity of the prosecutorial process, and is a matter for jury consideration."
He said mistakes have been found in at least nine DWI cases.
In one case, Kephart said, one person with no alcohol in her blood was charged with DWI.
"Anything that went through that crime lab should not be brought into a court of law," Kephart said last week. "You can't have compromised justice in a county and this is compromised justice."
Nassau's district attorney's office did not immediately comment.