Updates

  • Added by St.2004, c. 149, § 14
  • Amended by St.2014, c. 165, § 11
  • Amended by St.2018, c. 69, § 9, eff. April 13, 2018

(a)

There shall be a forensic science oversight board in the executive office of public safety and security. The board shall have oversight authority over all commonwealth facilities engaged in forensic services in criminal investigations, and shall provide enhanced, objective and independent auditing and oversight of forensic evidence used in criminal matters, and of the analysis, including the integrity of such forensic analysis performed in state and municipal laboratories.

The board shall consist of: the undersecretary for forensic sciences or a designee, who shall serve as chair but shall not be a voting member; and 13 members who shall be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall have expertise in forensic science, 1 of whom shall have expertise in forensic laboratory management, 1 of whom shall have expertise in cognitive bias, 1 of whom shall have expertise in statistics, 1 of whom shall be in academia in a research field involving forensic science, 1 of whom shall have expertise in statistics, 1 of whom shall have expertise in forensic laboratory management, 1 of whom shall have expertise in clinical quality management, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the attorney general, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the committee for public counsel services, 1 of whom shall be nominated by the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Inc. and 1 of whom shall be nominated by the New England Innocence Project, Inc.

A member, other than the undersecretary for forensic sciences or a designee and those nominated by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the attorney general, the committee for public counsel services or the New England Innocence Project, Inc., shall not be employed by or affiliated with any state or municipal forensic laboratory throughout the term of membership.

(b)

All appointments to the board shall be for a term of 4 years, with the members initially appointed serving staggered terms. A vacancy, other than by expiration of term, shall be filled by the governor for the unexpired term. Staff for the board shall be provided by the executive office of public safety and security. The board shall meet at times and places as is requested by 5 of its members and shall not meet less than quarterly. Members shall not designate a proxy to vote in their absence. Members of the board shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

(c)

Not more than 6 months following the appointment of its membership, the board shall conduct a comprehensive audit of the facilities and practices being utilized for criminal forensic analysis in the Commonwealth and the operation and management of the Massachusetts state police crime laboratories. Such audit shall include, but not be limited to: (i) evaluating the capabilities of the state police crime laboratory and its ability to process evidence necessary to comply with the Massachusetts general laws; (ii) the condition and accuracy of testing equipment; (iii) the handling processing, testing and storage of evidence by such facilities; (iv) establishing professional qualifications necessary to serve as the head of the state police crime laboratory; (v) the licensure and oversight of laboratory personnel; (vi) determining the proper entity to control the crime laboratory and whether it would be appropriate to transfer such control to another executive agency or to an independent executive director; (vii) the feasibility of creating a board to select an independent executive director of the crime laboratory; (viii) setting term limits and reappointment standards applicable to the head of the state police crime laboratory. The results of such audit, together with any recommendations for regulatory or legislative actions, shall be reported to the clerks of the house and senate, the secretary of public safety and security, the joint committee on the judiciary, the joint committee on public safety and homeland security, the colonel of the state police, and the house and senate committee on ways and means.

(d)

The board shall initiate an investigation into any forensic science, technique or analysis used in a criminal matter upon: (i) application by a person alleging that a forensic technique in common use is not scientifically valid if not less than 5 members of the commission, which may include the undersecretary for forensic sciences or the undersecretary’s designee, agree; or (ii) a determination by not less than 5 members of the commission, which may include the undersecretary for forensic sciences or the undersecretary’s designee, that an investigation of a forensic analysis would advance the integrity and reliability of forensic science in the commonwealth.

The board shall report the results of an investigation by the board, with any resulting recommendations, to the executive office of public safety and security, the joint committee on public safety and homeland security, the supreme judicial court, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the attorney general, the committee for public counsel services, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Inc. and the New England Innocence Project, Inc.

(e)

The board shall develop, implement and periodically review a system for forensic laboratories to report professional negligence or misconduct and any such facility shall be required to report to the board any instance of professional negligence and misconduct.

(f)

The board shall actively engage stakeholders in the criminal justice system in forensic development initiatives and shall recommend ways to improve education and training in forensic science and the law, and identify measures to improve the quality of forensic analysis performed in laboratories.

(g)

The board shall develop, implement and periodically review a system to evaluate laboratory accreditation and professional licensing processes, including securing and maintaining such accreditation, and shall ensure that every facility is actively accredited and in compliance with standards promulgated by the International Organization of Standardization.

(h)

The board shall review any budget request of the undersecretary for forensic sciences, including any recommendations for the allocation of resources and expansion of services, and may provide its own recommendations to the secretary of the executive office of public safety and security.

(i)

The board shall develop protocols to ensure proper chain of custody of evidence.

(j)

The board shall receive and review quarterly reports from the undersecretary for forensic sciences that shall include such information as the board requests, and which shall, at a minimum, include: (1) the volume of forensic services of each facility as well as the volume for each employee within such facility; (2) the volume of forensic services required for each county; (3) the costs and length of time from submission for testing and the return of results from such facilities; (4) compliance with accreditation standards; and (5) facility employee records, qualifications, and incident reports that could affect the integrity or results of forensic analysis.

At the direction of the board, the undersecretary for forensic sciences shall advise the board on issues as the board shall request. The undersecretary shall make recommendations for the allocation of resources and expansion of services, and on an annual basis, submit budget recommendations to the secretary of the executive office of public safety and security and the board.

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

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Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: May 7, 2019
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