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SBI Director Suspends Training Manual

The director of North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation has suspended use of a training manual that told agents how to cooperate with prosecutors and improve their cases. Director Greg McCleod made the decision as the Raleigh News & Observer continues a series of reports that cast doubts on the credibility of the SBI and whether its policies are in the public interest. The Basic Law Enforcement Training manual tells officers to inform district attorneys in advance about weaknesses in a case. It talks about conviction rates, saying that a "good reputation and calm demeanor" will enhance an analyst's rate. And it says the SBI agents in the crime lab should not discuss cases with defense attorneys unless they have the permission of prosecutors. Critics of the SBI say its crime lab is focused on helping prosecutors win cases instead of trying to find out the truth. The News & Observer series has highlighted several examples of mistakes and incompetence. Peg Dorer, the director of the North Carolina District Attorneys Conference says SBI procedures may need to be reviewed "I would hope, that certainly when you get the News & Observer to write a whole four-part series, you probably ought to make sure you're doing everything in the best possible way," she says. However, Dorer also dismisses many of the complaints from defense attorneys. "Defense attorney's job is not to seek the truth. That's the prosecutor's job," Dorer says. "The defense attorney's job is to do anything they can to defend their client." Attorney General Roy Cooper recently suspended all blood spatter tests at the SBI. The SBI has especially been under scrutiny since the February exoneration of Wake County resident Greg Taylor. He served 17 years in prison for a murder that the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission ruled he did not commit. The SBI withheld evidence in that case that could have proven his innocence at trial.