X

'She Sucks': But DNA-Test Doubter Just Won $1M

Toxicologist Marina Stajic sued New York City over her firing
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2019 7:00 PM CDT
Updated Apr 25, 2019 2:00 AM CDT
Marina Stajic.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – A toxicologist who got fired after questioning a dubious kind of DNA test is doing her victory lap—to the tune of $1 million, the New York Times reports. Marina Stajic, a former official at the chief medical examiner's office in New York City, settled with the city Monday and said she was right to doubt a test that's been used in thousands of cases. "No government employee should lose a job for standing up for honesty and sound science, but this was particularly hurtful for me because I had devoted nearly my entire career to serving the people of New York City and New York State," said the 69-year-old. The office claimed it had done a study whose results supported the use of what's called Low Copy Number DNA testing but wouldn't release the study. In 2014, Stajic voted on a state panel to compel its release. And that raised her colleagues' ire.

"Hold me down," wrote Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson in an internal email. "She sucks," griped an office special counsel, per the New York Daily News. Stajic got fired about six months later. At issue was a test that analyzed small DNA samples taken from crime scene areas that had been touched multiple times, like weapons or bike handlebars. New York City adopted the test in 2006 but wouldn't release a study supporting it. Now Stajic's attorneys say her lawsuit proves there was no study, while the medical examiner's office insists sufficient testing was done. Yet the city dropped the DNA test in January 2017. "My concern was if that study was not done, there could be wrongful convictions," said Stajic. "And if the wrong people were convicted, that would mean the wrong person would be walking free." (Read more DNA test stories.)

My Take on This Story
Show results  |  
4%
17%
4%
63%
8%
5%