GC/MS Evidence: Attacking and Defending Chemical Compound Identification For Legal Practitioners


Gas chromatography ("GC") and mass spectrometry ("MS") make an effective combination for chemical analysis. This article serves to demonstrate tools for an effective attack or defense of GC/MS evidence. To effectively use GC/MS evidence one must understand the process. First, the GC process will be considered, then the MS instrument will be presented. After a background in GC and MS is obtained, the reader will learn how to analyze the evidence produced by these instruments. The focus of this article lies in presenting the limitations to GC/MS analysis.

GC and MS are useful tools for chemical analysis, especially when used together. An attorney can present an effective attack or defense of GC/MS evidence with a basic knowledge of the analysis process and an insistence on documentation of important indicators that may affect GC/MS results. At the minimum, a technician must process standard samples before and after analyzing a specimen in question. In litigation an adverse party should seek hard copy output, including system conditions. Finally, no analytical technique produces results that are completely without doubt. An effective advocate should always seek corroboration of GC/MS results.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Frederic Douglas | Attorney Advertising

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