DOJ: News Release

Statement from AG Mike McGrath Regarding Court’s Denial of Petition Seeking Crime Lab Review

HELENA – Today, the Montana Supreme Court denied a petition seeking “extraordinary” relief in relation to the work of the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula. I am gratified by the Court’s decision.

For months, questions about the work of a long-departed employee have disparaged the current staff of the lab and the outstanding work done at the lab every day. Montana has a state-of-the-art facility with a respected, qualified, hard-working staff. I stand by the lab, its employees and its good work.

This office conducted a thorough review of Arnold Melnikoff’s cases. The review was a diligent one, in which we tracked down each individual criminal case in which he prepared a report. This office has been forthcoming about the review, its methodology and its conclusions.

That review had one vital purpose: To determine whether anyone else was wrongly convicted based on the work or testimony of Mr. Melnikoff. I have been, and I remain, satisfied with its conclusions.

In addition to this thorough review, in 2003, at my request, the legislature passed a law creating a procedure for postconviction DNA testing. The law is based on three criteria – a claim of innocence, a valid sample and an acknowledgement that the results of testing would illustrate a tangible difference in the case.

This opportunity for testing provides a solution for those who believe they have been wrongly convicted.

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