Next week I'm headed to Gas Chromatography school held at Axion Chromatography Labs in Chicago, IL. It is an extremely intensive course with less than 70 graduates thus far across the country.
So why am I spending a fortune on this course and wasting a week in Chicago in a freezing cold lab?
I'm still pondering the answer, but it seems like necessary training in this DWI blood test world. Gas Chromatography is the technique used to test DWI blood for alcohol concentration. In the past attorneys focused on the "science" (and I use that term lightly) of breath testing machines and standardized field sobriety tests. Personally I am already a certified Instructor in Field Sobriety Testing -- I can teach the course that certifies the police officers. But when it comes to blood testing, I have no certification. . . Yet.
Studying blood testing methods is the next obvious step.
Part of the reason I want to go is because of the obvious anomalies I've seen in our existing DWI cases. We have had cases where it was obvious that there was a problem with the blood testing. And juries have agreed. One case in particular I can remember, the client was almost three times the legal limit. Yet she was walking fine, talking fine, and asking normal questions. Clearly there was a problem with that test.
High error rates have been discovered for Austin PD blood tests in DWIs already. Houston's crime lab has come under criticism as well.
The class gives hands on training to attorneys and other professionals experience working on chromatography instruments such as the modern Agilent 6890 instruments with capillary columns and the latest Agilent Chemstation data systems (whatever the heck that is). Admittedly I cut and pasted that last portion from the registration materials.
The Class is taught in part by Harold M. McNair, author of Basic Gas Chromatography the best selling Gas Chromatography book in the world (translated into many different languages. Other instructors include Dr. Lee N. Polite, B.A., M.B.A., Ph.D. (pictured), Lew Fox, Justin J. McShane, Esq, and Josh D. Lee, Esq.
I've been to tons of blood test seminars. But hearing a Ph.D or attorney drone on about testing procedures can be quite boring. I think the only true way to learn this information is hands on in a lab setting such as this. At the very least I should get some cool photos of me in a lab coat.
Our office already has 2 Intoxilyzer 5000 machines. Maybe next we'll need to invest in our own GC instruments...