LITTLE FALLS - Authorities say a former New Jersey State Police crime lab technician who was removed from work for not properly analyzing evidence in a drug case mishandled at least 11 other cases.
Kamal Shah is accused of mishandling data collected about marijuana he was supposed to be testing for criminal cases. He worked at the state police lab in Little Falls for 10 years. Authorities say he has been involved in more than 7,800 drug cases.
Defense attorney Emile Lisboa says that he has had 1,000 defendants processed by this lab. He has found that six of his clients are directly affected by the alleged misconduct. He says that there are people in jail in part because of the lab results and now that evidence is destroyed.
"I have two clients who've served jail sentences,” Lisboa says. “I don't know how you get that time back."
Lisboa says that lab results carry a certain weight in the justice system, and mishandling them can be a real injustice.
“Faced with a lab report that appears to be certified and reviewed by administrators, it's frequently a document that can't be defended against,” he says.
It's unclear how authorities will handle the cases in which Shah's reports were used. Many other defense attorneys have filed motions to have convictions thrown out and guilty pleas withdrawn.
A spokeswoman for the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office declined to comment.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.