Police Expert Lied About His Credentials

The Baltimore Sun reports that police procedures expert Jospeph Kopera killed himself after being confronted with evidence that he had lied about his credentials. This revelation could force new trials for some of the hundreds of people he helped convict.

As reported in the Baltimore Sun:

Joseph Kopera, head of the Maryland State Police firearms unit, claimed on witness stands to have degrees that he never earned, state police acknowledged yesterday as they began notifying prosecutors and defense attorneys across the region of their findings.

As a firearms examiner – first with the Baltimore Police Department and then the state police – Kopera collected and then analyzed bullets, shell casings, weapons and other forensic evidence. Given the length and breadth of Kopera’s work, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys alike said yesterday that the implications of the investigation could be tremendous, with the analysis of every bullet and every weapon that has passed through Kopera’s crime laboratory called into question.

This tragedy unscores the necessity for both the retaining attorney and opposing counsel to verify the qualifications of expert witnesses. Tips on researching experts will be upcoming in this blog.