Cleveland Crime-Lab Audit Reveals Poor Work by Fired Analyst, but Says No Juries Were Misled


CLEVELAND Feb 17, 2007 (AP) An ongoing audit of the city's crime lab criticizes a fired forensic analyst for following poor procedures but says there is no evidence that he intentionally misled juries with his testimony, an Associated Press review shows.

The city of Cleveland fired Joseph Serowik in 2004 over his work in the case of Michael Green, who was accused of rape. Green's conviction was overturned on DNA evidence, and the settlement of his $1.6 million civil lawsuit included the provision that 17 years of the police laboratory's work involving Serowik get an outside review.

Since then, an outside legal center has accused Serowik of either missing important evidence or lying to juries, and has requested new trials for two defendants whose murder cases were reviewed.

The lab no longer tests for DNA, instead sending such evidence to the state's Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

Recent reports by an investigator involved in the audit conclude that Serowik routinely failed to record data to back up his results and at times demonstrated a lack of understanding of the evidence he presented on the witness stand.

However, the AP review of retired FBI agent Robert Spalding's reports on Serowik's lab records and trial transcripts shows that Spalding concluded Serowik did not mislead any juries with his trial testimony.

"I haven't sent (prosecutors) a single thing that made me think they (should) act on this," said Jim Wooley, a former assistant U.S. attorney who is leading the audit.

The Innocence Project, a New York-based legal center that specializes in overturning wrongful convictions, said Serowik's actions are inconclusive without retesting the DNA evidence in his cases, which is not included in the audit.

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