Crime lab troubles
Charlie Sykes is talking about this article right now. State Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is trying to defend herself from charges of incompetence.
Waukesha DA Paul Bucher, candidate for state attorney general, will be holding a press conference to focus on the issue. Here is the press release:
April 20, 2006
For Immediate Release:
BUCHER TO CRITICIZE LAUTENSCHLAGER’S HANDLING OF EVIDENCE OF BELOIT MURDERS; SAYS CRIME LAB DELAY COMPROMISING SAFETY IN DEATHS OF THREE WOMEN
Attorney General candidate Paul Bucher will criticize Peg Lautenschlager’s delay in processing evidence in the murders of three Beloit women at a news conference Thursday in front of the state crime lab in Madison.
Bucher will also release a “Safe Wisconsin” action plan for dealing with the crime lab backlog. Lautenschlager defended the crime labs delays last night in a media interview, even though she admits the crime lab hasn’t yet processed all evidence, including in the first murder in September of Carmella Ball. In addition, local police say they can’t determine for sure whether the murders are linked until they receive all of the evidence back.
What: News conference on AG’s delays in processing evidence in the Beloit murder case
Where: Madison Crime Lab, 4626 University Ave.
When: 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20.
Who: Attorney General Candidate Paul Bucher
Why: The AG defended the delays Wednesday in processing evidence in three Beloit murders.
So what: The delays are compromising public safety. The AG has failed to deal with the crime lab backlog, which has hampered law enforcement investigations all over the state. Bucher, who has also had crime lab delays hamper murder cases in his jurisdiction as Waukesha DA, has a plan for dealing with the backlog.
Update! Van Hollen has a press release on the issue:
[Waukesha, WI.] The decade-long mismanagement of the State Crime Lab has gotten worse
under Peg Lautenschlager, with case backlogs jeopardizing prosecutions across the state
“We have a huge backlog at the Crime Lab, yet last year Peg Lautenschlager only requested four additional positions there. At the same time she asked for five new positions for consumer protection, an area which another cabinet agency has primary authority,” said Van Hollen. “Lautenschlager has the wrong priorities; someone needs to tell her the Attorney General is supposed to be fighting crime.”
Since last year, Van Hollen has met with sheriffs and local prosecutors to discuss the issues they deemed most pressing. He said the Crime Lab backlog, which originated when the Lab was run by then-Attorney General Jim Doyle, was among the top issues mentioned at each meeting.
“The job of the Attorney General is to fight crime, not fight for the special interests,” said Van Hollen. “As Attorney General, I will make sure the state provides resources and leadership so local investigators and prosecutors can do their job, whether or not it appeases potential political donors.”