Fentanyl and Toxic Evidence Task Force

The Fentanyl and Toxic Evidence Task force was created by Administrative Order No. 2022-62. Due to a significant rise in the United States of overdoses due to fentanyl, carfentanil, and their analogs, there has been a corresponding rise in criminal cases involving these drugs that are filed in state courts. Accordingly, there is the potential risk that the drug evidence and other toxic evidence in these cases will need to be handled in the courthouse. The Fentanyl and Toxic Evidence Task Force was created to establish guidelines for handlings these drugs when they are presented as evidence. At a minimum, the task force will develop guidelines pertaining to the following:

  • Whether these drugs should be inspected and approved by designated court personnel before being allowed into a courthouse.
  • Whether these packaged drugs must always remain in the exclusive possession of law enforcement personnel, except by approval of the court, and whether these drugs should be given to, or handled by, court personnel or others involved in judicial proceedings, including attorneys, witnesses, court clerks, and jurors.
  • The protocols that should be adopted for handling of the packaging for these drugs. d. Whether these drugs should remain in a courthouse or court-related facility during non-business hours. If court rules pertaining to the handling of exhibits prevent removal from the courthouse, policies on secure and safe storage should be established.
  • Whether courthouse personnel should be trained to address possible exposure to fentanyl and other toxic evidence and to properly identify opioid toxicity; and identify what, if any, training is currently available.
  • Whether naloxone should be kept in courthouses and other court-related facilities for emergencies and whether court administration or court security should be trained on the administration of naloxone in the event of opioid toxicity.