Federal Criminal Law – FBI Hair Comparison “Experts” – Part One

Finally, after years of federal criminal law (and state) defense lawyers’ complaints that the FBI hair analysis “experts” used in state and federal prosecutions for decades, were making it up as they went along, the truth is out: they were making it up as they went along. Now they have admitted it, though very reluctantly.

Turns out that all but two of the 28 examiners in the FBI’s hair comparison unit “overstated” forensic matches which always – surprise – favored the prosecution’s case 95% of the time.  The NACDL and the Innocence Project (Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and their band of renowned) finally succeeded in exposing the dirty tricks that were used on, often, innocent defenants.

Incredibly, 32 such defendants were sentenced to death based due in no small measure to this phony junk “science” perpetrated on unwitting jurors by the FBI and prosecutors all over the country, half of whom have already been executed (or died in prison waiting for their lethal injection).

Just like the finally repudiated “bite mark” comparison pseudo-science, which also sent men to their deaths and to prison for decades, hair analysis “experts’ from the FBI were making it up, or exagerating it, as they went along. Federal criminal law was turned on its head.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, said, “These findings are appaling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system, not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongfully imprisoned and even executed, but for prosecutors who relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law.”  And all too many prosecutors knew all along that what they were presenting to the jury was phony, pure junk science.

Stand by for Part 2.

Federal Criminal Law – FBI Hair Comparison “Experts” – Part 2

More on FBI misdeeds in the realm of junk science in federal criminal law. These so-called experts claimed at trial after trial that the hair comparisons were near-certain “matches” to defendants charged in the cases.  To make matters worse, to butress their phony testimony, they described misleading statistics culled from their own work.  In other words, they claimed the hairs matched, and used their own history of “matching” samples as support for their own – self-seving – conclusions.

The truth is, there is no legitimate research that supports the FBI experts’ claims of how often hairs from different people may appear to be the same. Federal criminal law has been abused before, but this raises it to new levels.

In Washington DC federal criminal cases, 3 of 7 defendants (43%) whose trials included such nonsense FBI “expert” claims were ultimately completely exonerated by DNA comparisons, which is anything but junk science.  But those FBI experts had claimed that the “hairs matched” and were the defendant.

In all, when all the cases these “experts” testified in are counted, the FBI itself now admits that the examiners “made statements exceeding the limits in 90%” of the cases, including a staggering 34 death penalty cases.

If this weren’t bad enough, along the way these same “experts” were teaching state and local crime labs workers across the country in their so-called “techniques,” and how to testify effectively just as the FBI agents were doing.  So, worse than anything, they have also contaminated untold numbers of state and local “experts” to do the very same scheming, lying and perjuring themselves – all in the name of getting convictions.  Innocence doesn’t matter to them – close the case, convict someone – even better if it’s someone they don’t like in the first place.  Horrid abuse of the criminal justice system.

Thank you also to the Washington Post for pushing the FBI and the government into looking and admitting: