EMBATTLED police chemist subject of hearing

Wednesday, August 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A city panel convened a closed hearing Tuesday that will determine whether embattled police chemist Joyce Gilchrist is disciplined or fired from her job.

``This is a pre-determination and name-clearing hearing,'' said Monica Coleman, an assistant municipal counselor. ``Its purpose is to allow ... Gilchrist an opportunity to hear the allegations against her and respond to those allegations.''

Gilchrist's work is being investigated by state and federal agencies for alleged shoddy practices and false or misleading testimony.

In 1986, Gilchrist misidentified hair evidence in the sexual assault trial of Jeff Pierce, whose conviction was overturned May 7. In April, the FBI recommended a review of all cases in which her work was significant to securing a conviction.

Gilchrist and her attorney, Melvin Hall, attended the hearing, which is structured much like a trial. The hearing is expected to continue for at least two more days.

The panel will hear both sides of the case before making findings of fact and issuing a recommendation to Police Chief M.T. Berry, Coleman said. The final decision is left to Berry.

Gilchrist has been on paid administrative leave from the police department since February, earning a base salary of $59,528.