Delaware Makes Mistakes

Over and over during our fight to repeal Delaware’s death penalty, we heard, “not in Delaware” and “we get it right in Delaware.” Well, here is evidence that the Delaware criminal justice system often gets it wrong.

Thefts and tampering at the Controlled Substances Laboratory in the Delaware Medical Examiner’s Office  2/26/14  “Drugs have gone missing, or been substituted with fakes at the state Medical Examiner’s drug testing laboratory in at least 15 cases for alleged drug crimes that took place between 2010 and 2012.”

Certificate: Sussex prison death a homicide  4/21/14  “The February death of a man being held at the Sussex Correctional Institution has been ruled a homicide due to multiple blunt force injuries, according to a death certificate provided an attorney representing the man’s family.”

3 thoughts on “Delaware Makes Mistakes

  1. Some of the points made in the recent newspaper accounts of the problems in the ME’s office are very important. If the thief/thieves resealed the evidence bags so well that the cop who testified the contents were switched, but that the bag appeared to be as he left it, how can there be any confidence in the chain of custody for any drugs in the time period under study? Let’s take this a little further than the newspaper did. What if Oxycontin was taken from an envelope and later replaced with something that looks almost the same, something that would deceive a visual exam, but which is not an illegal substance? What if the amount is different? There are so many possible variations that could affect the outcome of a case and the sentence imposed, and at the moment we have no idea what to believe, and probably everyone is in the same boat on this. At the moment, I don’t see how you can trust anything that came out of that office in this time period wrt drug cases, and so they should all be dismissed. I don’t say that lightly. I say it very reluctantly, but I don’t see what choice the State or the courts have in these cases.

    • Hi Cody, Thanks for responding. Those two points have everything to do with capital cases in Delaware. All of the data in capital cases in Delaware goes through the Medical Examiners office. They have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to reliably process data. We cannot let the life of a defendant hang on an agency whose integrity is in question. As to the other item, one of the biggest arguments in favor of the death penalty is the risk to corrections officers. The item shows that inmates are more at risk by corrections officers than vice versa. Additionally, the Cornell study published in 2012 has shown that errors in Delaware’s capital cases have contributed to reductions in death sentences. These errors include prosecutorial misconduct, evidentiary error, jury misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, and instructional error.

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