Sunday, April 26, 2015

FBI overstated hair match crisis (12); (The Emperor's Clothes); Matthew Mangino says faulty hair analysis has far-reaching implications; Holland Sentinel;

STORY: "Matthew Mangino: Faulty hair analysis has far-reaching implications," published by More Content Now on April 26, 2015; (Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing);

GIST:  When the joint review was originally announced, FBI Special Agent Ann Todd said, “There is no reason to believe the FBI Laboratory employed ‘flawed’ forensic techniques,” adding that microscopic hair analysis is “a valid forensic technique and one that is still conducted at the lab” alongside DNA testing. “The purpose of the review is to determine if FBI Laboratory examiner testimony, and reports, properly reflect the bounds of the underlying science,” Todd noted. The early results of the review firmly challenge the validity of hair analysis and certainly the scope of the examiner’s testimony.  This week, the Justice Department and FBI formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in the FBI’s microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period. According to The Washington Post, of 28 examiners in the unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. According to The Post, 14 have been executed or died in prison. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that one of the men executed was Missouri inmate Jeffrey Ferguson. He was executed on March 26, 2014. The Missouri State Public Defender’s Office said that the FBI analyst, Michael Malone, made several errors in the cases against Malone... “exceeded the limits of science” in claiming the hair “could be associated with a specific individual to the exclusion of all others,” reported The Post-Dispatch. They also say Malone erred in assigning a statistical probability to his claim and in citing the number of other comparisons performed to bolster his conclusion. Before one concludes that an innocent man has been executed because of faulty hair analysis consider that although Ferguson originally claimed he was innocent, he later expressed remorse for the killing while behind bars. He acknowledged his guilt to a Post-Dispatch columnist, but said he was too drunk to remember the crime."

The entire story can be  found at:

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