On Monday March 7th, 2011 the Honorable Judge George Peck handed down his eagerly awaited decision in connection with the Erin Marino case. Ms. Marino had been convicted of aggravated vehicular assault for allegedly running into a minivan while being intoxicated by alcohol. The judges decision to throw out the conviction was based upon newly discovered evidence which disclosed improper testing at the Nassau County Crime Lab and possibly a cover up. At the time of the conviction in August 2010 it was not know how poorly the Nassau County Crime Lab was being operated. But when the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors placed the lab on probation, the Pandora’s box was opened and all the lab’s secrets came pouring out.
- · The Nassau County Crime Lab has since been ordered closed indefinitely by the county executive.
- · The Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice petitioned the court to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the lab but said petition was denied.
- · The Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo then appointed State Inspector General Ellen Biben to investigate the lab.
- · Retesting of prior lab results have come back as inaccurate and wrong.
- · Blood alcohol samples have been mislabeled in DWI prosecutions.
Although the Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is known for being outspoken, she has remained silent in connection with the judges ruling. Perhaps even Ms. Rice can’t keep a straight face when arguing that the ruling is wrong, although it has been disclosed that the District Attorney’s Office plans on appealing Judge Peck’s decision.
How an argument can be made that the ruling is wrong by the same office that sought the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate a possible cover up and potential illegal activity is mindboggling. As for Judge Peck’s decision, I applaud it. It’s encouraging to see that Judges in Nassau County will analyze the facts and apply the law. When a judge protects the rights of the accused he protects all citizens. It was John Adams who defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial. Mr. Adams stated: “Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our inclinations, or the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” The evidence is irrefutable the lab is closed!