San Francisco Medical Examiner, San Francisco, Julie Small discussed on All Things Considered


It's cake. Edie News. I'm terrorist. Siler. San Francisco's medical examiner's office is reeling from the arrest of a technician at its toxicology lab. Sheriff's deputies in Utah jail just invoke last month for having an evidence bag in his car full of crystal meth. The arrest has thrown thousands of past criminal investigations into question and raised new concerns about how the medical examiner's office runs. These criminal justice reporter Julie Small is here to take us through this And Julie. Why would the medical examiner stored drugs like methamphetamine? And how could a toxicology lab technician allegedly steal them? So the reason why the medical examiner has drugs in storage is because they are going to be investigating any sudden violence or unexpected deaths. And it's part of what they do in an investigative scene. They go out and they collect anything that's on the body is going to be submitted into evidence and with drugs. They're goingto weigh them and measure than making a full catalogue of them and then store them in and then eventually destroy them. And they have pretty strict protocols in place actually in the department, or they did. I spoke to Dr Nicholas Lee most the former chief toxicologist for the medical examiner in San Francisco. He left in 2016. He says he was surprised to hear about the arrest because he put strict protocols in place to ensure that all drugs are logged in and always handled by two technicians at a time who he says should be supervised every step of the way. I am really concerned. The supervising toxicologist and the chief toxicologist were absent when in fact, they should have been president and supervising this process. We're talking hundreds of thousands of medications. Hundreds of thousands off this drugs. The temptation is great. Limo's actually resigned in 2016 after he said he was being pressured to engage in unlawful practices at the office. Hey, had reaching $100,000 settlement for wrongful termination and Julie it seems like there have been a number of high ranking people in that office who have resigned over complaints of mismanagement and poor standards. This is a pretty persistent problem. It seems, Yeah, I mean in 2013. There was a six month backlog and death investigations and then the office lost its accreditation, and they've also struggled to recruit and retain staff. Dr. Judy Melanie worked as a forensic pathologist at the San Francisco Medical examiner's office several years ago. She told me she resigned because the office was poorly run and the morale was low and the reputation of the office had suffered. The repeated problems are management problems, and at some point we have to either have a grand jury inquiry or someone look into the operations of the office and make major changes. Because that seems to come up every few years. So what's gonna happen with San Francisco's medical examiner's office? Are there going to be some changes? We'll have to see if the public defender is demanding a review of all criminal cases and convictions that involved evidence that Justin Volt candle. The district attorney's already estimated that's more than 2500 cases, And he's asking the Board of Supervisors for nearly half a million dollars to review those convictions to make sure The evidence wasn't compromised. Supervisor Aaron Peskin is requesting a report from the legislative analyst today on what structural reforms could be made to the medical examiner's office. To strengthen the integrity of death investigations as forjust involved, city administrators say they've placed him on administrative leave while they investigate the allegations. And as far as I know, the district attorney has not yet filed criminal charges against him. Okay, Well, thank you so much, Julie. Thanks, Tara Duty Criminal.

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