News 08.12.13

TFSC to Review Microscopic Hair Convictions

Three weeks after the Innocence Project and the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) announced its historic partnership with the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review microscopic hair analysis cases, the Texas Forensic Science Commission (TFSC) plans to use DNA testing to find out if there were any wrongful convictions in older criminal cases because of microscopic hair fibers, reported the

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

.


“We have a moral responsibility to find out,” said Arthur J. Eisenberg, a forensic science commissioner who is a DNA expert and a co-director of the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification in Fort Worth.

Post-conviction DNA testing has already proved than at least one person was wrongfully convicted in Texas because of the unreliable science. In December 2000, Claude Jones was executed for a murder he always maintained he didn’t commit. Nearly a decade after his execution, DNA testing proved that the central evidence used to convict him — a hair fragment — was not his.

 

With more than 70 DNA exonerations having involved the improper use of hair sampling, the TFSC will survey crime labs across the state to learn the methods used to conduct hair analysis that did not involve verification with DNA. The commission hopes that forensic labs will notify the commission of known examples.


“We want to make sure convictions are based upon responsible forensic evidence,” Eisenberg said. “And we want to make sure there aren’t cases where undue weight has been put on that evidence.”

While hair is the most common evidence found at crime scenes, only DNA analysis can match hair to a specific person.

 

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