District Attorney to probe forensic lab analyst’s work after arrest

District Attorney to probe forensic lab analyst’s work after arrest

After a San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office forensic laboratory analyst was arrested last week in Utah with an evidence bag carrying methamphetamine, District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Friday his office will be taking a closer look at past cases he was involved in.

Justin Volk was arrested Aug. 31 by Washington County sheriff’s deputies after they reportedly found the drugs in his vehicle. Volk has since been charged by Washington County prosecutors with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Volk has been released from custody.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Volk first started working for the medical examiner’s office in 2007. With the allegations against Volk, city officials said they’re now questioning Volk’s credibility, as he’s assisted prosecutors with some 2,500 cases over the past eight years.

“When an individual law enforcement officer, or staff at the medical examiner’s office engages in serious misconduct or potentially criminal misconduct… it substantially undermines my office’s ability to prosecute cases,” Boudin said in a statement.

Boudin’s office will now have to go through thousands of previous cases to determine Volk’s level of involvement in them and which ones resulted in convictions.

“The arrest of Mr. Volk casts another dark shadow on the credibility of the medical examiner’s office, and I urge the District Attorney to immediately review the thousands of cases and convictions that relied on his work to determine whether dismissal is required,” said Public Defender Mano Raju.

“My office will be seeking records on Mr. Volk from the medical examiner’s office and demanding an independent audit of the medical examiner’s office,” Raju said.”It’s disturbing that we’re still relying on the San Francisco medical examiner’s office to inform criminal cases after years — if not decades — of poor protocols that have led to a loss of national accreditation, substandard work product, and a lack of transparency. Justice simply cannot happen when the medical examiner’s employees — tasked with providing objective and unbiased scientific evidence and opinion — lack integrity.”

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