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POLICE chemist takes case to court

Updated:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Embattled police chemist Joyce Gilchrist went to federal court Thursday in a case apparently tied to a pre-termination hearing that will decide whether she keeps her job.

Gilchrist filed papers in U.S. District Court that resulted in a closed conference and hearing before U.S. District Judge David Russell. The hearing included representatives of the city attorney's office, federal court clerks said.

The papers were accompanied by a request from Gilchrist that they be sealed and their content not be released to the public, the clerks said.

Following the hearing, Russell dismissed the case and placed the record of the hearing under seal, they said.

Gilchrist's attorney, Melvin Hall, declined comment. ``I think what's best for my client is not to say anything,'' Hall said.

Gilchrist has been accused of performing shoddy work and is under investigation by state and federal agencies. She is on paid administrative leave and has denied the allegations.

She is scheduled to face a two-day administrative hearing beginning Monday that will determine whether she is fired, but Gilchrist told the Daily Oklahoman she didn't think the hearing would go forward.

``To my understanding there isn't going to be a hearing Monday,'' she told the newspaper.

The FBI urged a review of cases in which Gilchrist's forensic work was significant to a conviction. An FBI report said she misidentified hair and fiber evidence in at least five cases.

Last month, Jeffrey Todd Pierce was released from prison after serving 15 years of a 65-year term for rape. He was freed after DNA tests showed he did not commit the crime.

An Oklahoma County jury found him guilty based on the victim's mistaken identification and Gilchrist's testimony.

No charges have been brought against Gilchrist, who was a police chemist from 1980 to 1993, when she was promoted to an administrative position.

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