Analyst Certification

The Forensic Sciences Act of 2011 originally required that State Crime Lab analysts "shall be required to obtain individual certification consistent with international and ISO standards within 18 months of the date the analyst becomes eligible to seek certification according to the standards of the certifying entity or by June 1, 2012, whichever occurs later, unless no certification is available." See Session Law 2011-19, which was amended by Session Law 2011-307 and Session Law 2011-168, which allowed an extension of the deadline to until January 1, 2013 or as soon as practicable after that date.

The National Academy of Science Report, Strengthening Forensic Science: A Path Forward recommended in 2009 that forensic analysts become certified:

The certification of individuals complements the accreditation of laboratories for a total quality assurance program. In other realms of science and technology, professionals, including nurses, physicians, professional engineers, and some laboratorians, typically must be certified before they can practice. The same should be true for forensic scientists who practice and testify. Although the accreditation process primarily addresses the management system, technical methods, and quality of the work of a laboratory (which includes the education and training of staff), certification is a process specifically designed to ensure the competency of the individual examiner. (p. 208)

See pp. 208-210 of this publication for more information on analyst certification.

Sample Defense Motions

This motion contains one approach to requesting results of lab analyst's certification exam. For this motion, attorneys should consider attaching Judge Gary M. Gavenus's July 13, 2012 order, Judge Howard Manning's June 20, 2012 order and the State's Motion from June 12, 2012 in Buncombe County below as exhibits.

This sample motion contains a request for specific discovery, motion to preserve evidence and motion to produce for an in camera inspection by the court is another approach.

If attorneys have litigated this issue and have motions or orders to share, please send them and they will be posted here.

Buncombe County

Wake County

  • State's Motion - Wake County District Attorney's June 12, 2012 motion for the SBI to provide a complete list of the results of State Crime Lab analyst certification exams administered pursuant to the Forensic Sciences Act of 2011.
  • Order - June 15, 2012 order that the State Crime Lab furnish to the Wake County Office of the District Attorney the results of the certification exams of lab analysts on a continuing basis and that such information be used by the District Attorney's Office on an individual case by case basis and not be disclosed except pursuant to the conditions of the order.
  • State's Motion - Attorney General's Office June 20, 2012 motion requesting the Wake County order be extended to cover all prosecutorial districts.
  • Statewide order: Order - June 20, 2012 order that the State Crime Lab furnish to all District Attorney Offices across the state the results of the certification exams of lab analysts on a continuing basis and that such information be used by the District Attorney's Office on an individual case by case basis and not be disclosed except pursuant to the conditions of the order.

Forsyth County

  • State's Motion - Forsyth County District Attorney's June 12, 2012 motion for the SBI to provide a complete list of the results of State Crime Lab analyst certification exams administered pursuant to the Forensic Sciences Act of 2011.
  • Order - June 14, 2012 order that the State Crime Lab furnish to the Forsyth County Office of the District Attorney the results of the certification exams of lab analysts on a continuing basis and that such information be used by the District Attorney's Office on an individual case by case basis and not be disclosed except pursuant to the conditions of the order.

Orders similar to the one entered in Forsyth County have been entered in Prosecutorial Districts 7, 2, 21, 22B, 15B, 5, 13, 10, 20A, and 12.

State Crime Laboratory Memos

Articles

  • Recent news articles - this page contains links to recent press coverage about analyst certification or lab accreditation.

Additional Information on Analyst Certification

There are various organizations and professional boards that offer certifications for forensic scientists. The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board, Inc. is a program that assesses and monitors such organizations and professional associations to ensure that the certifications offered meet certain standards. The Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board is a project that was established with the support of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the National Forensic Science Technology Center and the National Institute of Justice. Click here to view a list of accredited organizations.

These appear to be the organizations from which the State Crime Lab analysts are seeking certification:

  • American Board of Criminalistics (click to expand)
    • The American Board of Criminalistics is certified by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.
    • The American Board of Criminalistics was likely the organization used to administer certification exams to the State Crime Lab analysts in the Forensic Biology, DNA, Drug Chemistry, Toxicology and Trace Evidence sections of the lab.
  • Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners (click to expand)
    • AFTE is not certified by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.
    • AFTE certification requires a written and practical examination.
    • AFTE offers certification in three areas: Firearm Evidence Examination and Identification, Toolmark Evidence Examination and Identification, and Gunshot Residue Evidence Examination and Identification.
    • To be eligible for certification a firearms examiner must be at least a provisional member of AFTE. AFTE membership requirements are listed here.
    • If an examiner is a provisional member of AFTE, there are additional qualifications required to apply for certification, including three years paid experience as a court qualified Firearms and/or Toolmark Examiner and training and experience must equate to five years of total experience as a Firearms and/or Toolmark Examiner. Qualifications for certification are listed here.
    • If an applicant fails a written or practical part of the exam, she must wait one year before retesting in that area.
  • International Association for Identification (click to expand)
    • IAI is certified by the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board.
    • IAI membership requirements are listed here.
    • The IAI offers certifications in several forensic specialties, including Latent Print Certification. Latent Print Certification has a technical training requirement, basic experience requirement (two years full time experience in the comparison and identification of latent print material or the equivalent part time experience), and educational requirements. IAI certification requirements are listed here.
    • IAI certification requires a written exam, oral board testing or presentation of a case, and a videotaped mock trial.
    • If an applicant fails for any reason other than an erroneous identification there is a six month waiting period for retesting. Failure due to an erroneous identification resutls in a one year waiting period for retesting.