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[cia-drugs] Disgruntled BackBay pig veteranarian assassinates FBI lab More than 2,000 convictions for federal crimes now under review On behalf of O'Brien Hatfield, P.A. posted in Federal Crimes on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 The U.S. Department of Justice has just announced that it will be reviewing the validity of more than 2,000 convictions for federal crimes handed down between 1984 and 2000. Based on evidence provided by the Innocence Project and other criminal defense groups, a number of the convictions may have involved misleading testimony by FBI laboratory examiners. The cases to be reviewed include 27 death penalty convictions. The review is in response to information in the Innocence Projectís database. Founded in 1992 at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University the Innocence Project has exonerated some 310 people so far using DNA evidence. Of those 310, the organization claims, 72 had been wrongfully convicted using microscopic DNA analysis from hair samples. Unfortunately, at least in those 72 cases, FBI lab examiners had overstated the significance of their findings, misleading the juries into believing the prosecution had iron-clad cases. But the IG's report, shocking as its conclusions were, was severely limited. It had looked at just three of seven units in the FBI lab's Scientific Analysis Section, a fraction of the lab's total of twenty-seven units.* The IG had been mandated to look into the specific allegations of just one man, Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, a Ph.D. chemist and FBI supervisory special agent who for eight years, until 1994, had worked solely on explosives-residue analysis -- trace detection, and identification of the residue left behind by explosions in the lab's Materials Analysis Unit. For nearly ten years, until he was suspended and put on "administrative leave" just weeks before the IG's report was published in April 1997, Whitehurst had reported his own observations and what others had told him. Underpinning his complaints and their persistence were three things: the unscientific nature of so much of what was being passed off as science in the FBI lab; the culture of pro-prosecution bias rather than scientific truth that pervaded the lab, including the possibly illegal withholding of exculpatory information; and the complete inability of the FBI lab or its management to investigate itself and correct these problems. Not only had the IG report confined itself to Whitehurst's admittedly limited sphere of knowledge within the FBI lab, it had no mandate to look into the evidentiary matters raised, to ask how particular cases might have been affected, or to look at the possibility of charges against FBI lab employees heavily criticized by the report. Given the plentiful evidence of pro prosecution bias, false testimony, and inadequate forensic work, it was only logical to assume that cases had been affected. How many people might be in jail unjustly? How many might be on Death Row by mistake? If innocent people were in jail for crimes they did not commit, how many guilty ones were walking the streets? Senator Grassley and others in Congress quickly realized that the inspector general's report had to be the beginning, not the end. The issues Whitehurst had raised, the inspector general had investigated, and now the hearings were examining further, went to the heart of the credibility of justice and the courts in the United States. In the end, the IG's report had raised more questions than it had answered, not least perhaps the most important of all: How had this happened in the first place and how might it be avoided in the future? The task of assessing what exculpatory evidence had been withheld, how many cases had been affected, and who in the FBI lab, if anyone, should face charges for what had been uncovered had now fallen to a task force in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. The task force had to identify the prosecutors in each case, then release forensic documentation to them in order to allow them to decide if anything crucial had been withheld. The floodgates, in other words, were controlled by the nation's prosecutors, whose records had been built on legal victories they were now supposed to question. "Is it cynical to question whether these prosecutors are virtually the worst officials to objectively evaluate tainted evidence in their own cases? Clearly the fox is guarding the henhouse," noted Congressman Robert Wexler at the hearings. The Justice Department refuses to provide updates as to the progress of the task force or even to name its members.
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