GA - GAC
Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia
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Chapter 92-4 INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC EXAMINATION OF EVIDENCE AND DOCUMENTATION

Rule 92-4-.01 General Information

(1) The date and time of the independent scientific examination shall be determined by mutual agreement between the independent examiner and the Division of Forensic Sciences Supervising Official(s) within the time limits set out in the applicable court order or written request of a defendant and/or his attorney. The court order or written request shall specify the exact evidence items to be examined/analyzed (or released for examination) and shall specifically list any laboratory documentation to be provided. The court order or written request shall also identify any Division of Forensic Sciences instrumentation which the independent examiner requires, the name of the independent examiner, or the name of the independent testing facility. This order/written request shall be submitted to the Division of Forensic Sciences at least 72 hours in advance of the proposed date of the examination.

Rule 92-4-.02 Documentation Provided by DOFS

(1) Documentation provided by the Division of Forensic Sciences will be limited to:
(a) Laboratory notes and records produced as a result of the examination/analysis of evidence submitted in the relevant case.
(b) Analytical laboratory procedures of the Division of Forensic Sciences utilized to conduct the examination/analysis of the pertinent evidence.
(c) The official Division of Forensic Sciences report issued in this case.
(d) Database information sufficient to calculate frequency estimates (the number of times a set of characteristics is expected to occur) provided in the Division of Forensic Sciences case report.

Rule 92-4-.03 Access to Evidence

(1) Evidence items will be provided for independent examination according to the following criteria:
(a) All examination/analysis of evidence of a physiological nature requiring in excess of one eight-hour workday and all blood alcohol determinations shall be conducted at an outside independent testing facility to be mutually agreed upon by the Division of Forensic Sciences and the requesting parties. This testing facility shall have an acknowledged capability and the expertise to perform the required examination/analysis.
(b) A portion of the remaining physiological sample equal to that originally tested by the Division of Forensic Sciences will be given to the independent examiner/testing facility upon court order/written request. If the remaining physiological sample is less than the portion originally tested, a mutually agreed upon amount will be provided directly to the independent testing facility.
(c) Independent examination of all other evidence types shall be conducted in the presence of and under the supervision of the Division of Forensic Sciences personnel (Supervising Officials and scientist/analyst who performed the analysis). No evidence nor any part thereof will be removed from the Division of Forensic Sciences by the independent examiner, the defendant, or the attorney for the defendant.
1. All examinations, tests and experiments will be conducted in the presence of and under the supervision of Division of Forensic Sciences personnel. This shall occur in the facility where the evidence is located unless there is mutual agreement between the Division of Forensic Sciences supervising official and the attorney for the defendant that testing of the evidence at another laboratory is in the best interests of all parties. In any case, the Division of Forensic Sciences shall maintain possession of all evidence throughout the entire course of examinations, tests, or experiments conducted on behalf of the defendant. The independent examiner shall have the capability and expertise to perform the examination/analysis without the aid or expertise of Division of Forensic Sciences personnel.
2. Any and all examinations, tests, and experiments shall be fully described to the Supervising Official prior to conducting such examinations, tests, and experiments. If a Supervising Official deems any proposed examination, test, or experiment to be destructive of the State's evidence, or to be destructive to the Division of Forensic Sciences' instrumentation or facilities, or to be hazardous to the health and safety of personnel, the Supervising Official will be or halt such examination, test, or experiment.
3. The independent examiner will be refused entry into the Division of Forensic Sciences Laboratory if he possesses, without the proper permits and authorizations, substances controlled by Federal and/or State laws.
4. No individual(s) other than the independent examiner(s) will be allowed in the Division of Forensic Sciences laboratory area during the examination/analysis period.
5. All instrumentation will be available for use if the independent examiner can show that he has a competent working knowledge of the instrument. Any equipment which will be used in re-analysis shall be identified to the Division of Forensic Sciences Supervising Official at least 72 hours in advance of arrival. Additionally, office supplies and non-controlled chemicals will be supplied by the Division of Forensic Sciences personnel unless the Supervising Official determines that the independent examiner can provide equipment or supplies which are substantially the same as those of the Division of Forensic Sciences. The Division of Forensic Sciences reserves the right to verify the composition of reagents (a substance or mixture of substances used for its chemical and/or biological properties) by the independent examiner in order to prevent damage to Division of Forensic Sciences instrumentation. The independent examiner shall supply any reagents or test kits utilized for Toxicology or DNA examinations.
6. The independent examiner shall sign an agreement to indemnify the GBI for any and all damages which may occur as a result of use of GBI equipment and hold harmless GBI from any and all liability arising from the use of such equipment.
7. Any special or unique equipment provided by the defendant's examiner will be acceptable if the experiment, examination, or testing protocol is acceptable under rule 92-3-2-.03(c)3. of these regulations.

Rule 92-4-.04 Evidence Transfer and Document Description

(1) Evidence items or documentation will be provided using one of the following mechanisms:
(a) Evidence items which are to be tested by an independent facility will be forwarded directly to that facility from the Division of Forensic Sciences using a method of transport which will maintain the chain of custody (e.g., overnight mail services, personal transport, certified U.S. Mail).
(b) The requesting party will be charged reasonable fees for the preparation and duplication of documents and photographs as well as any fees for shipping. Payment shall be received in advance.
(c) Review and/or duplication of video and audio materials will be the responsibility of the investigating agency.