A debate regarding the outcome of family court cases heard at the Dallas County Family Court is ongoing, and at the center of it all is the man regarded as the top drug test expert of that court.

The qualification of Jim Turnage, president of Forensic DNA and Drug Testing Services of Dallas, has been brought into question. He currently conducts drug tests, mostly for family court and some criminal court cases, and is assigned almost all the drug test cases of the Dallas County Family Court. According to Turnage, he has thus far provided expert testimony in more than 700 such cases.

Turnage was quoted as saying: “I’ve been doing this for 30 years… I’ve been a lab technician in the early 90s; I meet with toxicologists, deal with toxicologists on a daily basis. I’ve attended seminars, I’ve learned from the toxicologists and the lab directors.”

The question, though, is whether that is enough to qualify him to testify as an expert. His one-page biography indicates that he holds an associate arts degree, and was unable to finish college. According to Dwain Fuller, a forensic toxicologist who has provided expert testimony in court, a background in science should be the minimum requirement for someone to be regarded as an expert in the field of drug testing.

Fuller said: “If you misinterpret the tests, you put people in danger… Depending on what court you are talking about, you could lose the custody of your children, you could lose your livelihood… you could lose your freedom.”

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