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SBI Lab Gets Interim Director; More Audits Coming, Cooper Says

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper today named a former judge as interim director of the SBI crime lab. Cooper also says he wants an audit of every section of the lab. Gerald Arnold served 22 years on North Carolina's court of appeals. He will fill in for Jerry Richardson, who was fired last month after an audit found 230 cases in which lab analysts misrepresented or wrongly reported blood evidence from 1987 to 2003. That audit only covered the blood analysis unit. Now, Arnold will lead a legal review of every section of the crime lab to see if its current procedures follow state law. Cooper says there will also be a separate audit of every section of the crime lab that will examine past cases. Cooper said in an interview last week that he's in the process of assembling that team. "We're bringing in a number of outside experts," Cooper said. "The idea here is to leave no stone unturned. We want to make certain that the SBI and the forensics lab is even better than it ever was." In addition, the new director of the entire SBI, Greg McCleod, has requested both the FBI and ATF to audit or review portions of the crime lab. He wants the FBI to conduct a spot audit of the lab's DNA section, and he's asked the ATF to examine ballistics evidence in cases in which questions have been raised about SBI findings. Meanwhile, a committee that's heading up a national search for the next permanent director of the lab met Tuesday for the first time. "We're looking to bring in someone with impeccable credentials and a science background," McCleod says. The previous crime lab director did not have a science degree. It was in communications.