Tuesday, April 28, 2015

FBI overstated hair match crisis: (14); (The Emperor's Clothes); Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm comments on the impact in Florida which is said to have made more use of this faulty analysis than any other state; Seth Miller, Director of the Innocence Project of Florida says, “What we now know is that an entire area of forensic science, both the analysis and the testimony on conclusions drawn from that analysis, were just plain wrong in virtually every instance.” (Must, Must Read, HL);

COMMENTARY: "Fred Grimm: Bad science contributes to convictions," by Fred Grimm, published by the Miami Herald on April 25, 2015.

GIST: "Bogus scientific testimony from FBI analysts helped put at least 10 defendants on Florida’s death row. One of those poor saps has since been executed. The same discredited evidence — based on the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparisons — contributed to another 32 Florida criminal convictions. The numbers are sure to grow.........Last week, the FBI, the Justice Department, the Innocent Project and the NACDL issued one of the more chilling joint statements you’ll ever read: “In the 268 cases where examiners provided testimony used to inculpate a defendant at trial, erroneous statements were made in 257 — 96% of the cases.” It gets worse: “Defendants in at least 35 of these cases received the death penalty and errors were identified in 33 (94%) of those cases. Nine of these defendants have already been executed and five died of other causes while on death row.” Imagine the effect on a jury when an expert from the FBI lab, after reciting his gaudy science-guy credentials, delivered damning testimony based on microscopic hair analysis. “What we now know is that an entire area of forensic science, both the analysis and the testimony on conclusions drawn from that analysis, were just plain wrong in virtually every instance,” Seth Miller, director of the Innocence Project of Florida, told me via e-mail. “The effect is most acute for Florida because we apparently made use of this improper analysis in more criminal cases than any other state,” Miller said. No state had more suspect convictions than Florida with 42. (Next was Pennsylvania with 21, then Texas with 20.)By the time these investigators finish reviewing the remaining 2,500 cases, Florida will likely have scores of other tainted convictions to add to our collective shame. Each case demands a thorough examination. Whether Florida lives up to its moral obligation is another question.........We can now add mendacious microscopic hair analysis to Florida’s unseemly methods of sending prisoners to death row, along with unreliable eye witnesses; dishonest and shoddy police work; false confessions elicited from frightened juveniles and mentally addled men; jailhouse admissions of guilt reported by cellmates looking for a get-out-of-jail deal. As judges and defense lawyers and prosecutors examine this new batch of tainted cases, Floridians might consider the moral risk when their imperfect justice system includes death row."

 The entire column can be found at:

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fred-grimm/article19504029.html#storylink=cpy


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