Former OKC police chemist files $15 million lawsuit

Thursday, April 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Former Oklahoma City police chemist Joyce Gilchrist filed a $15 million lawsuit against the city Wednesday, claiming her firing resulted in part from a sexual misconduct complaint she filed against one of her supervisors.

Gilchrist was fired in September for allegedly performing shoddy work and giving false or misleading testimony in criminal cases, including some in which she helped send men to death row.

Police Chief M.T. Berry, among 12 defendants named in the lawsuit, said the decision to fire Gilchrist was based on the recommendations of an administrative panel that heard testimony about her alleged misconduct.

Reasons for the firing included ``laboratory mismanagement, criticism from court challenges and flawed casework analysis,'' Berry said at the time.

In her lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma City federal court and reported on by Oklahoma City television station KOCO, Gilchrist said her trouble began when she filed a sexual misconduct complaint against a supervisor. The advances were not made against her, but she felt a complaint needed to be filed, the lawsuit said.

The supervisor and others within the Police Department then conspired to retaliate against her, Gilchrist says in the lawsuit.

She eventually was questioned about seven cases, including the rape case of Jeffrey Todd Pierce. Pierce spent 15 years in prison before being freed in May, after DNA evidence exonerated him.

Gilchrist testified in that case that hair left by the rapist was ``microscopically consistent'' with Pierce's hair. But federal investigators say her hair and fibers were misidentified in his case and at least five others.

Last week, Pierce filed a lawsuit that alleges Gilchrist and retired Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy produced false evidence that was used to convict him.

Gilchrist says in her lawsuit that Pierce was exonerated because of DNA testing that wasn't available at the time of his trial, and not because of flawed analysis. Her lawsuit says Berry and others falsely allowed the public to think otherwise.

She also says more than $1 million has been spent reviewing 1,700 of her cases, and those re-examinations have resulted in no overturned cases except that of Pierce.