by Chet Hardin
In today's article, Questioning the Witness, we reported on questions surrounding some court testimony of Cynthia Burbach, the head of the state's toxicology lab.
Attorney Tom Silverman's cross-examination of Burbach in a 2008 case plays a significant role in the article. In transcripts from that case, Silverman attempts to pin down Burbach on her educational background — notably whether or not she had a degree in chemistry. During a previous court case, she had said that she had a dual major in chemistry and biology from New Mexico State University.
Under questioning from Silverman, she first said that she had a chemistry minor; by the end of the questioning, she admitted that was not the case:
Later, Silverman asked, "The truth is that you are not listed as having a chemistry major or even a minor according to the Registrar at New Mexico State, isn't that true?"
"Well," she began, "I would probably agree with that. I still consider it a chemistry degree because I have a lot of hours in chemistry."
The toxicology lab that Burbach oversees is responsible, in part, for the blood tests that are used by prosecutors in DUI trials. Earlier this year it was discovered that some 1,700 blood tests would need to be redone due to possible errors.
It should be noted that perjury can be prosecuted as a class 1 misdemeanor or class 4 felony.
Amusingly, Silverman compared Burbach's testimony to Jon Lovitz's former character Tommy Flanagan from Saturday Night Live.
For your afternoon entertainment: