I am in Fort Collins Colorado as a faculty member for NCDD’s Serious Science for Serious Lawyers. Today is Tuesday, day two and we were introduced to two more Ph.D to teach us. Dr. Patricia Sulik and Dr. Robert Lantz, both from Rocky Mountain Labs. They both have Ph.D.s in analytical chemistry. Dr. Sulik lectured about the best practices of a scientific laboratory including employee hiring and proficiency testing. Dr. Lantz followed up by pointing out the differences between an independent lab and a state forensic lab the latter being inherently biased which is exactly the opposite of the proper demeanor of a scientist. Because their only customer is law enforcement and prosecutors, state forensic scientists have different motivations, their employee qualifications are sub par, and they lack proper independent state and federal regulation.
State forensic laboratories receive hundreds of unknown biological samples to test every week. Therefore they run somewhat of an assembly line. The attendees all loved when Dr. Lantz stated that “one problem with automation is that you can do a lot of bad work fast”
Quality control auditor Janine Arvizu also lectured on key measurement concepts specific to blood alcohol and drug testing including very important concepts like preparing a calibration curve for the GC, the indirect measurement and interpolation of the internal standard method, and an overview of reference materials, traceability and measurement uncertainty. A skilled DUI attorney must know these concepts to expertly fight any blood alcohol or drugged driving case.
Today we brought these concepts to the real world when we took the afternoon and visited Rocky Mountain Labs. They demonstrated the intake process of analyzing unknown samples including the intake of the samples, maintenance of the instruments, preparation of samples, preparing a calibration curve, utilizing the software and running unknown samples for a determination of ethanol.
I learned that Colorado allows the defense attorney to do an independent analysis of their client’s blood sample and they do not have to share the results with the prosecution. That is not the case in Michigan. If I have a independent analysis of a sample, the prosecution will know what it was which is why I never do it. Here, it is common practice, which is a lot of Rocky Mountain’s business.
I have had a lot of lab experience so I began to tire so fellow instructor, the Texas DUI DUDE Jamie Balagia and I ducked out early and visited a marijuana dispensary. The marijuana business in Colorado is fascinating to me so I enjoy visiting different places and speaking to the employees. Colorado is very unique right now in this regard. Marijuana seemingly is a HUGE industry here. Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University with about 30,000 students. I do not know how much the campus drives marijuana business here but it is clearly a part of the culture.
After coming back to the hotel and a rest, I rode my mountain bike on the trails of nearby Horse Tooth Mountain where I racked up 22 miles and about 1200 feet of climbing. After that I watched the end of the NBA Finals where Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the favorite Golden State Warriors to take a 2 games to 1 lead. It has been another great day.
Tomorrow we work on trial skills, which is why I am here. We will learn the art of telling a story in opening statement.