I-Team 10: Monroe crime lab chief criticized for testimony in 2008 trial: "she made things up as she went along"
Posted at: 06/07/2012 2:52 PM
| Updated at: 06/07/2012 6:38 PM
By: Berkeley Brean | WHEC.com
News10NBC has obtained a court decision that shows the current Monroe County Crime Lab director was criticized for testimony she gave during a DWI manslaughter trial in California in 2008. One lawyer in the case said she "made things up as she went along."
Janet Anderson-Seaquist is currently on administrative leave. Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks placed Anderson-Seaquist on leave May 25th.
Previously, County Spokesman Justin Feasel said he cannot say why Anderson-Seaquist is on leave because it's a "personnel matter."
Since Anderson-Seaquist was put on leave, News10NBC and I-Team 10 has spent days digging for information into her past and turned up this court decision that highlights her controversial testimony. Click here to read the decision. (Pay close attention to pages 11 and 12)
The trial and testimony in question happened in Santa Barbara County, CA in 2008.
At the time, Anderson-Seaquist was the "criminalist" in the Ventura County Sheriff's Department in 2008.
Anderson-Seaquist was hired as the Monroe County Public Safety Lab Administrator in January 2010.
The California Court of Appeals decision was published in June 2011.
The testimony of Anderson-Seaquist is highlighted in a California Court of Appeals decision dated June 23, 2011. Anderson-Seaquist, who at the time of the criminal trial in 2008 was a "criminalist" in the Ventura County Sheriff's Crime Laboratory, was called to testify by the prosecution on basic alcohol related information related t the DWI manslaughter case. Click here to see a report on the victim and the crash.
The controversy began when Anderson-Seaquist expressed "expert opinion" on whether alcohol can cause memory loss after an accident.
Anderson-Seaquist's testimony was thrown out by the judge who, according to the court's decision, described Anderson-Seaquist's testimony as "overreaching," "trying to be cute," and "unfairly exuberant to give information without the following traditional protocol."
The court decision shows the defense attorneys were concerned that Anderson-Seaquist was "going to get up there (on the stand) and all of a sudden blurt out this preposterous opinion."
According to the court's decision, the defense challenged Anderson-Seaquist on how she could make such an opinion. The decision says Anderson-Seaquist said she based it on eight (8) articles she had read. But under cross-examination, Anderson-Seaquist admitted she only "perused" some of the articles that, according to the court's decision and lawyers close to the case contacted by News10NBC, said nothing about alcohol and memory loss.
The Appeals Court decision continues: "in the words of defense counsel, Anderson-Seaquist 'made things up as she went along.'"
News10NBC contacted County Spokesman Justin Feasel about this story to find out if this appellate court decision had any bearing on the decision to put Anderson-Seaquist on leave. We want to know if the county was aware of Anderson-Seaquist's testimony and if so, when the county was made aware of it.
The County's response
In response, Feasel wrote in an email, "Janet Anderson-Seaquist was hired as the result of a National Search on January 4, 2010. The court ruling was issued on June 23, 2011 and was therefore not available at the time she was hired. Due to the fact that this is a personnel matter, I cannot comment on whether this is the reason Janet Anderson-Seaquist was placed on administrative leave."
News10NBC went to Anderson-Seaquist's house twice on Wednesday to try to talk to her. We left a message at her house asking her to speak to us about this story. So far that request has gone unanswered.
In a story on News10NBC on Wednesday, local defense attorneys said the crime lab under Anderson-Seaquist's direction has been run professionally and has given access to defense attorneys that they were not afforded before.