The San Francisco Chronicle reports that another key prosecution witness for hundreds of San Francisco drunk driving cases had a prior record of false testimony and according to the Washington Supreme Court was a “perpetrator of fraud.” Ann Marie Gordon who worked for the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office previously worked for the Washington State Crime Lab but was fired after it was discovered that she vouched for blood test results in DUI cases in which she did no work. Apparently three months after being fired in Washington she was hired in San Francisco to do precisely the same job.
So obviously the Medical Examiner’s Office did a very poor job of checking Ms. Gordon’s references and professional background. And once again the District Attorney’s Office failed in checking the background of one of their star witnesses. But the majority of the blame lies with the criminal defense attorneys and Public Defenders in San Francisco who failed their own clients by not checking the creditials of the Ms. Gordon. In every criminal case in which an expert witness testifies, the prosecutor, when asked by defense counsel, must turn over the resume of their expert witness. Apparently defense attorneys didn’t asked for her resume, or if they did, they failed to research her work experience. If defense counsel, upon reading her resume had simply picked up the phone and called the public defender office in Washington to inquire about her, they would have gotten an earful.
What if they had simply Googled her name? A few minutes of researching on the internet would have revealed her prior problems in Washington. We can assume that some criminal defendants went to jail because of Ms. Gordon’s testimony. The attorneys that handled those cases may have committed malpractice by not researching her background.
There is plenty of blame to go around on this issue but the bottom line is the criminal defense bar in San Francisco was asleep at the wheel on this one.