INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- An Indiana state lab wrongly reported 1 in 10 marijuana cases as positive, including some that were deliberately manipulated, an audit report indicated.
"This is a potential mess," former Marion County, Ind., prosecutor Scott Newman told The Indianapolis Star, which first reported the Department of Toxicology audit results.
"The only thing that saves it is ... the criminal justice system and the scientific community (have been) brought together to try to make sense about how to go forward," said Newman, who was hired to fix the agency.
The audit's findings showed errors in about 200 of 2,000 marijuana tests reported to law enforcement as having positive results, the Star said. This includes about 50 results the report said were consciously manipulated by lab workers.
Numerous verdicts could be overturned and cases dismissed, Newman said, although it was not clear if every error led to a wrongful conviction.
The revelations are "shocking" and "inexcusable," state Public Defender Council Executive Director Larry Landis told the newspaper.
"If they're manipulating data, how can you rely on anything they do?" he said. "We're talking about people's lives."
The audit, conducted by outside scientists, was originally going to cover every case with a positive lab result from 2007 to 2009 -- more than 10,000 overall.
But the initial findings are so troubling Newman will probably extend the audit back to 2006, he told the Star.
The lab, established in the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1957, seeks to provide "science-based support for the impaired and dangerous driving program and other criminal justice efforts for the State of Indiana," the lab's Web site says.
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