FBI faked an entire field of forensic science.

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Hair sample

Yet another way that money turns everything, including criminal justice, on its head. I wonder how long this has been public knowledge…How many other areas of law are impacted by this revelation? Apparently, Daubert is not enough to stem the tide of corruption and deception in expert testimony.

“The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.”

What went wrong? The Post continues“Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far.” The shameful, horrifying errors were uncovered in a massive, three-year review by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project. Following revelations published in recent years, the two groups are helping the government with the country’s largest ever post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

Chillingly, as the Post continues, “the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death.” Of these defendants, 14 have already been executed or died in prison.

The massive review raises questions about the veracity of not just expert hair testimony, but also the bite-mark and other forensic testimony offered as objective, scientific evidence to jurors who, not unreasonably, believed that scientists in white coats knew what they were talking about. As Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, put it, “The FBI’s three-decade use ofmicroscopic hair analysis to incriminate defendants was a complete disaster.”

The Super Lawyer you never hear about

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Clive Stafford Smith is the founder and Director of Reprieve.

Clive oversees Reprieve’s casework programme, as well as the direct representation of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay and on death row as a Louisiana licensed attorney at law.

After graduating from Columbia Law School in New York, Clive spent nine years as a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights working on death penalty cases and other civil rights issues.

In 1993, Clive moved to New Orleans and launched the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center, a non-profit law office specialising in representation of poor people in death penalty cases.

In total, Clive has represented over 300 prisoners facing the death penalty in the southern United States. While he only took on the cases of those who could not afford a lawyer – he has never been paid by a client – and always the most despised, he prevented the death penalty in all but six cases (a 98% “victory” rate).

Few lawyers ever take a case to the US Supreme Court – Clive has taken five, and all of the prisoners prevailed.

You would think with a track record like this, I would have heard about him in law school or even on TV some time – any time. His success record before the Supreme Court alone is newsworthy not to mention his success record in general. I have some case law to read. This will be interesting. Many thanks to my friend David O’Neil for introducing me to him.