Crime lab drug test backlog forces delays in city trials
The Baltimore Police Department acknowledged on Tuesday a backlog in its crime lab to analyze drugs seized during arrests, while the city’s District Court said it is working to implement an extended timetable for bringing certain cases to trial. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said police have been collecting more complex types of drugs, with fentanyl cases rising from just 0.3 percent of drugs analyzed three years ago to more than 8 percent. “It takes longer to analyze fentanyl,” Davis said. Kevin Kane, a spokesman for the judiciary, said cases in District Court have historically been set for a first trial date 30 days after a defendant’s arrest. He said postponements are granted for a number of reasons, including the defendant requesting additional time to get an attorney or the unavailability of a police officer or analyst. But Kane said the court has been working to start an arraignment docket that will set the first trial date six weeks after arrest, for individuals released on their own recognizance. An arraignment would occur one week after the arrest. “Detained individuals will continue to receive court dates within 30 days,” he said. The new system will begin in about two weeks.