Horse Trainer Innocence Project
A division of Viaguard Forensic Services
A review of over 1100 drug related offences with which trainers were charged indicates that less than 5% of the regulators allegations were challenged, and even those did not offer a robust forensic defence. The conviction rate was virtually 100%
While there is a reverse onus provision on trainers that makes them responsible for total care of their horses on a 24/7 basis, a suspect premise in its own right, there is just as much onus on the testing laboratory and other involved personnel to ensure scientific validity in the in the entire process, including testing protocols and procedures established by the courts and laboratory accreditation agencies.
The burden of proof is on the prosecutorial side, and they will finally be put to the test as they are in any other drug matter.
This critical part of the process, a fundamental concept for many years in criminal and civil proceeding has been virtually totally disregarded in matters involving trainers and their charges
Trainers facing drug charges for a horse they are training are entitled to the safeguards established by the Supreme Court in evaluating forensic evidence and the complete validity of the extensive mandatory protocols and procedures fromevidence collection to the final report
Your safeguards include but are not limited to the extensive forensic protocols surrounding:
- Chain of Custody
- Collection procedures
- Cross contamination
- laboratory documented error rates
- Laboratory proficiency tests
- Qualifications of involved laboratory personnel
- technician proficiency tests
- documented test procedures described in a recognized journal
- calibration certificates on all test equipment
- validity of reagents used
As the Supreme Court has noted:
"a trial judge must ensure that any and all scientific testimony or evidence is not only relevant but reliable and in considering the admissibility of evidence a trial judge should focus solely on principles and methodology, and not on the conclusions they generate"
Our staff includes horseman with many decades of experience in the horse racing industry, including presidency of HBPA associations and Racing Commissions.
Our state of the art laboratory is an accredited forensic testing facility, with much criminal and civil drug related experience in the legal system.
Our services are available to persons engaged in the thoroughbred, standardbred, or quarter horse areas.
We will be requesting all disclosure documents and evidence that is intended to be used in the prosecution of your case and conduct a forensic examination of what is produced including a determination if the process met the standard of scientific validity in every aspect. We will prepare a line of questioning for any experts or witnesses to be employed by the regulator.
In many cases we will be working with your lawyer.
Racing commissions and tribunals routinely dealing with these matters should be supportive of a process that brings transparency,scientific validity, and fairness to the system. As in serious cases the burden of proof is held to a high standard,not of reasonable probability, but closer to a certainty.
Tribunals have an obligation to ensure this level of justice and experience indicates that the availability of valid scientific information will assist them in making judicious decisions.