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Elite FBI Forensic Unit Gave Bad Testimony in Cases Involving Hair Evidence

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Justice Department admitted for the first time that forensic unit for the bureau provided false testimony in nearly every trial that involved hair analysis, The Washington Post reports. 

All but two of the 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit “overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far” in a 20-year period before 2000, the Post wrote, citing the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocent Project, which are helping the government review sketchy forensic evidence.

Of those cases, 32 defendants were sentenced two death, and 14 have been executed or died in prison.

Whether the errors will force retrials is unknown. The government is alerting defendants in 46 states of the flaws.

The Washington Post wrote:

“The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the nation’s courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.”


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