According to a recent editorial by Matthew Major of Public Opinion Online, the Pennsylvania State Police Forensics Lab needs to retool its case prioritization system.
Major wrote about a Franklin County homicide case involving Bryan Kendall, the suspect who had to wait for 18 months while evidence was being processed for his case. Franklin County D.A. Matthew Fogal defended the state’s lab, saying that the sheer volume of statewide cases that it receives means that “prioritization must be made to cases pending immediate trial.”
Major isn’t buying it. He argues that any prioritization that must be made due to volume should be based on the seriousness of the case, not on the schedules of judges and attorneys. As Major puts it, “It’s kind of galling to even consider that Bryan Kendall’s due process might have been held up for any length of time for the sake of trials involving misdemeanors, for example.”
As it turns out, the evidence against Kendall was very weak, and criminal charges against him were dropped. That he had to wait 18 months for his innocence to be confirmed only seems to add weight to Major’s arguments:
“No one should have to wait years — either under a cloud of suspicion, or yearning for justice — to learn their fate once they’ve wound up on the wrong side of the law. “