In August, we wrote about independent testing of positive drug test samples. Once again we have another example showing that independent testing of urinalysis samples is often a smart play.
Yesterday, the Seattle Times ran a story about the case of an Army doctor that tested positive for cocaine. The Stars and Stripes picked up the story here.
The positive drug test caused the doctor to face licensing issues and a court-martial. He was convicted. The jury gave him a stunning 2 year sentence. The Army Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction last year. The doctor is still fighting the case.
The facts are quite surprising. After the doctor's urine tested positive, he requested a hair follicle test. The sample was sent to Quest Diagnostics - an approved private testing company that this firm has worked with in the past. The hair follicle test came back negative.
The military judge did not allow the defense to present the negative test, though he allowed the defense to ask questions on cross-examination about the test. Long story short - the defense lawyer never obtained the hair-follicle test report. The court reversed the conviction.
In the past year, this is the second high profile example we've seen of military drug labs using contaminated samples. We've seen other cases where independent DNA testing showed the sample was not from the accused.
Our August blog is still on point. Military juries need to learn that drug testing labs are not perfect.
One of the problems with the drug labs, is that their mistakes do not get caught unless they make a mistake on a control sample. Military members rarely have their samples retested by an independent lab.
There are a few ways that drug labs can make mistakes in the testing process.
The labs can:
-Mishandle samples during the collection process;
-There can be rack jams during automated preliminary screening;
-Samples can be diluted by the drug lab with "certified" clean urine that can result in potential errors in the dilution process and the mathematics of calculating the results;
-Contaminated tubes and equipment are possible at the lab; and,
-Paperwork can be incorrectly processed at the drug lab.
The military services have policies for obtaining independent testing. One strategy - if you are confident that you did not have drugs in your system - is to have the sample independently tested. The testing has to be done by an approved. We have experience in having samples independently tested. Contact us if you need more info on independent testing.