DNA Data Bank Oversight Panel

Minutes of the Meeting of September 14, 2010
Department of Public Safety Forensic Laboratory
Meriden, Connecticut

The meeting convened at 9:40 a.m. In attendance were: Lynn Wittenbrink, Office of the Attorney General; Dr. Michael Bourke, Department of Public Safety (DPS), Division of Scientific Services, Forensic Laboratory; Dr. Carll Ladd, DPS, Division of Scientific Services, Forensic Laboratory; Wanda White-Lewis, Department of Correction (DOC); George Camp, DOC; Michael Aiello, Judicial Department, Court Support Services Division (CSSD); and Judith Rossi, Division of Criminal Justice, Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

Minutes: The minutes of the meeting held on June 8, 2010 were accepted. It was agreed that the Chair will continue to bring hard copies of the Agenda and the Minutes to each meeting.

New Business:In accordance with P.A. 10-102, which designated CSSD as a member of the DNA Databank Oversight Panel starting October 1, 2010, members officially welcomed Michael Aiello who will serve as CSSD’s representative to the Panel.

Public Comment: Attorney Karen Goodrow commented on the implementation of the Innocence Project Grant and told the Panel that the collaboration between the Public Defender’s Office, the Division of Criminal Justice and the Forensic Lab is going well. The Lab has two dedicated staff members to work on Innocence Project cases. By agreement with the Forensic Lab, up to four cases will be submitted by the Project to the Lab, except that, where a case is particularly complicated or resource-intensive, the submission of new cases will be held until that matter is resolved. A recent case submitted by the Project resulted in confirmation of the conviction.

Update on McCoy v. Boyle: The Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral argument in June on whether a second DUI conviction constitutes a felony for DNA collection purposes. A decision by the Court may take up to a year. Meanwhile, DOC has continued to collect samples from inmates convicted of 2d offense DUI. But CSSD has “excepted” such offenders from collection pending the Supreme Court’s decision. The Forensic Las has reported a couple of “hits” on 2d DUI offender samples in the databank.

Implementation of P.A. 03-242:

Report of the Forensic Lab:The number of samples submitted in July and August 2010 was lower than expected. The backlog of forensic profiles continues, reaching 3,039 at the end of August 2010. There were a total of 1563 confirmed “hits” as of August 31, 2010.

Staffing problems continue, so that pending cases are being prioritized with “rush orders” and violent crimes taking precedence. In two cases, due to the backlog 2 sexual assaults occurred that would not have occurred had samples been processed promptly.

The Lab and DOC successfully engaged in a “drawing out” to collect and enter profiles of all qualified inmates, which numbered 2935. There were 52 confirmed “hits” of forensic profiles on 52 of these individuals, including 3 homicides, 15 sexual assaults, 5 robberies, 23 burglaries, and 4 assaults.

The Lab asked the Panel for advice on how to handle discovery requests in two pending cases where contamination of a DNA sample by lab personnel has occurred, and the defense has requested the name and profile of the staff person involved. As the Lab interprets the relevant statutory provision, it mandates disclosure of a name and identifying information only in the case of a “hit. The Attorney General’s Office and the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office will consider the matter.

Report of DOC: DOC has now completed its effort to collect all “backlog” samples (see above). Of the 2935 inmates who owed samples, 422 inmates have refused to provide samples. Three have been charged with felony refusal. Of those 1 has provided a sample, and 2 have court dates in October 2010.

DOC is now collecting samples “up front” -- upon admission -- and reports there is 100% compliance at present. DOC has updated the advisement form provided to all felony inmates to indicate that refusal to provide a sample is now a D felony.

Report of CSSD: CSSD is also updating its advisement forms to indicate that refusal to provide a sample is now a D felony. Refusals will be referred to the Connecticut State Police for a warrant.

CSSD is now handling sample collection cases previously handled by the Connecticut State Police.

CSSD will be opening a new collection site in Stamford, which will operate 2 days a month.  Other collection sites are in Bridgeport, Waterbury, Hartford, Willimantic and New Haven.

The Panel went into Executive Session at 10:50 a.m. and came out at 11:20 a.m. No purges were considered.

The next meeting of the Panel is scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. at the Forensic Lab in Meriden.