2,000 Orlando area cases in review after fingerprint expert's mistakes

Public Defender Bob Wesley checking if rights were violated

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Public Defender for the Orlando area is reviewing almost 2,000 cases after an Orange County Sheriff's Office fingerprint expert has been reassigned because of mistakes.

Public Defender Bob Wesley said Wednesday in a statement that his office is checking to see if any clients' rights were violated.

"It hurts all of us when someone doesn't do their job," Wesley said. "We're all counting on each other."

Marco Palacio, a fingerprint expert with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, was reassigned recently after the mistakes came to light.

"At first we didn't know how many cases we had or how great the issue would be," Wesley said.

Wesley said Palacio was involved in 2,000 cases. He is now hiring additional staff and will spend the next six months reviewing 1,700 of them to see if anyone's rights may have been violated.

"We have a duty to look at every case that is questioned and try to make sure there are no issues," Wesley said.

Wesley believes Palacio let the criminal justice system down. He said in past recorded depositions, Palacio's testimony could have resulted in unfair convictions.

"We record them and you can hear his voice, 'I've never been wrong, I'm 100 percent correct, no one checks me cause I'm right,'" Wesley said.

And that's a problem he wants solved.

"I think what is most troubling at its core is any job any of us have that's worth doing, someone checks it, someone inspects it," Wesley said.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala notified the public defender and other private defense attorneys about potential problems with Palacio's work.

Wesley said it's his office's job to clean up the mess and get results.

"We have to go through the work, even if it's one person," he said.

The public defender's office is asking anyone who thinks their case may be affected by Palacio's testimony to reach out to them. You can call (407) 836-4806 or fill out a form online at www.myfloridapd.com.

About the Author: