Thursday, July 18, 2013

U.S Microscopic hair analysis debacle; "Unprecedented" review of more than 2000 cases set in motion: Aim is to help ensure that only scientifically valid evidence is used to identify and convict criminal defendants; Innocence Project release;

RELEASE: "Innocence Project and National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (NACDL) announce  historic partnership with the FBI and Department of Justice on microscopic hair analysis," released  by   Paul Cates of the Innocence Project on July 18, 2013.

SUB-HEADING: "Government agrees to notify defendants of error, waive procedural arguments and offer free DNA testing."

GIST:  Today the Innocence Project, the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and its partners announced a groundbreaking and historic agreement with the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review more than 2,000 criminal cases in which the FBI conducted microscopic hair analysis of crime scene evidence.    The agencies agreed to undertake the review after three men who had served lengthy prison sentences were exonerated by DNA testing in cases in which three different FBI hair examiners provided testimony which exceeded the limits of science and contributed to their wrongful convictions.  The review will focus on specific cases in which FBI Laboratory reports and testimony included statements that were scientifically invalid. The Innocence Project and NACDL have collaborated on this important matter with its pro bono partners, David Koropp, a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP and his colleagues; along with Michael R. Bromwich, Managing Principal of The Bromwich Group and Partner at Goodwin Procter LLP, who served as the Inspector General of DOJ from 1994-1999. The Innocence Project, NACDL and its partners have worked closely for over a year with the FBI and DOJ in determining the scope, protocols and implementation of the review that will cover more than 2,000 cases that were processed by the FBI between 1985 and 2000, as well as an unknown number of cases that were processed in preceding years. The review covers cases in both the federal and state court systems.  Because of the importance attached to these cases, the DOJ has agreed, for the first time in its history, not to raise procedural objections, such as statute of limitations and procedural default claims, in response to the petitions of criminal defendants seeking to have their convictions overturned because of faulty FBI microscopic hair comparison laboratory reports and/or testimony. This agreement will help ensure that defendants will not have any wrongful conviction claims dismissed before being reviewed by a court on the merits. The government also agrees to directly notify the defendants and their lawyers in cases where an error is identified and to offer free DNA testing in the cases where an error was identified in the analysis or testimony and there is either a court order or a request for testing by the prosecution......... The Innocence Project, NACDL and Winston & Strawn LLP will work together to ensure that all criminal defendants who were convicted by faulty hair comparison analysis evidence receive representation to pursue relief.   "This review is an example of our judicial system at its best -- prosecutors and defense lawyers working together to see that justice is done," said Koropp.  "Determining whether erroneous forensic evidence may have been used in criminal cases is vital to maintaining the integrity of our criminal justice system.   The FBI is to be commended for the leadership position it has taken to help ensure that only scientifically valid evidence is used to identify and convict criminal defendants.""

The entire release can be found at:


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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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