Dakota County judge orders new hearing regarding St. Paul Crime Lab

A Dakota County judge has ordered a new hearing this spring to determine if laboratory equipment at the St. Paul Crime Lab could have contaminated other drug evidence used in multiple drug convictions.

Judge Kathryn Messerich on Feb. 21 granted defense attorneys Lauri Traub and Lisa Janzen’s motion to reopen the Frye Mack hearing after independent reports found more problems at the St. Paul Crime Lab than had already been uncovered during testimony that started last summer.

Testimony revealed significant issues with the lab’s processes, training and equipment maintenance.

Traub argued the lab’s practices did not meet minimum scientific standards and is seeking drug evidence used in the cases included in the hearing to be thrown out.

Minnesota Public Defender’s office is also reviewing past convictions for the possibility of seeking post-conviction relief.

County prosecutors in Dakota and Ramsey Counties have agreed to retest drug evidence in convictions for the past two years with the potential of vacating convictions.

If there is not enough evidence to support the conviction, prosecutors will also vacate the conviction.

The hearing is schedule for 9 a.m. May 3 in Dakota County.