Sunday, November 18, 2007

Comparative bullet-lead analysis flawed and defendents never notified...

Disturbing report from the Washington Post, FBI's Forensic Test Full of Holes:
Hundreds of defendants sitting in prisons nationwide have been convicted with the help of an FBI forensic tool that was discarded more than two years ago. But the FBI lab has yet to take steps to alert the affected defendants or courts, even as the window for appealing convictions is closing, a joint investigation by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes" has found.

The science, known as comparative bullet-lead analysis, was first used after President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The technique used chemistry to link crime-scene bullets to ones possessed by suspects on the theory that each batch of lead had a unique elemental makeup.

As the article points out it's not as if the FBI does not know this technology is not valid, but what will happen to the many who were prosecuted using this now proven to be faulty technology is not clear at all.
The Post and "60 Minutes" identified at least 250 cases nationwide in which bullet-lead analysis was introduced, including more than a dozen in which courts have either reversed convictions or now face questions about whether innocent people were sent to prison. The cases include a North Carolina drug dealer who has developed significant new evidence to bolster his claim of innocence and a Maryland man who was recently granted a new murder trial.

The Post has quite a bit more information about this story including a new blog that covers investigative stories, Washington Post Investigations.

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