Hair Testing and Toxicology in the Modern Courtroom

Posted by Debra White | Feb 28, 2010 | 0 Comments

As technology progresses, toxicology reports are becoming an invaluable if somewhat tricky tool when used in the courtroom.  Take the case of Anthony John Sadek of Redwood City, California, for example.  Sadek was accused of drugging his wife with gammahydroxybutrate, or GHB as it is more commonly known, so that he could molest their child.  GHB is a powerful drug that can cause immediate unconsciousness when taken in large doses.  Often referred to as the “date-rape drug”, GHB leaves a person's system quickly which makes allegations of rape or intoxication difficult to prove.  Sadek's wife feared that she had been drugged with GHB and went to have her hair tested by a forensic analytic specialist.  The results of the test were negative, yet her hair was sent to another lab that turned up levels of GHB that would cause death.  That Sadek's wife was not dead obviously put these results in question.

The legitimacy of hair testing when it comes to GHB has been a topic of argument for quite some time. Some experts say that it is the only way to find traces of the drug in a person's system since it quickly leaves the body after ingestion.  Others argue that hair already naturally contains GHB in small doses making conclusive report nearly impossible.  It can be confusing for a layperson with no forensic or criminal background to interpret lab results like these, and the judge in the Sadek case must have agreed.  He dismissed the entire case last week on the grounds that the toxicology reports submitted to the court were deemed false.   The judge as well as the defense attorney agreed that the vastly different test results simply did not make sense.  Naturally, these inconclusive test results do not necessarily mean that Sadek is innocent, but what they do mean is that there simply wasn't enough concrete proof to try the case in front of a jury.

As science and the legal system continue to evolve and change, tools like toxicology reports will play a crucial role in how rape defense, child molestation defense, and violent crime defense cases are decided.

About the Author

Debra White

Attorney Debra S. White is an aggressive and talented trial attorney based in Los-Angeles, California who has successfully represented clients accused of sex crimes in both state and federal courts since 1999. Ms. White is a fierce advocate who enjoys the many challenging aspects of sex crimes defense, including defending against false accusations, faulty memories, and prosecutorial misconduct.


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