News 01.19.10

Three Freed, and FBI Continues to Review Ballistic Cases

It has been five years since the FBI stopped using an unreliable forensic test to determine the source of bullets, and a review of more than 2,500 cases involving the faulty evidence is still ongoing.


The Associated Press reports today

that at least three convictions have been overturned nationwide after bullet lead evidence was debunked, and the FBI has notified prosecutors in 187 cases that testimony offered by FBI experts "exceeds the limits of the science and cannot be supported by the FBI."

In 2005, the FBI ceased offering testimony in court on comparative bullet lead analysis, a forensic test once thought capable of identifying unique bullets based on their chemical makeup. It would be two more years, however, before an investigation by CBS News’ “60 Minutes” and the Washington Post revealed that the FBI had failed to notify defendants who may have been convicted based on false evidence.

Following the FBI’s announcement in 2007 that it would reinvestigate cases, the Innocence Network and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers launched the

Bullet Lead Analysis Task Force

. The joint effort assists the FBI in reviewing closed cases and serves as a resource for defense counsel and for defendants who may have been wrongfully convicted based on erroneous or misleading FBI testimony.


View the Washington Post / “60 Minutes” original report

.

Bullet lead analysis is one of the many forensic fields discussed by the National Academy of Science in its 2009 report calling for federal forensic oversight.

Learn more about the need for a federal entity to support forensic development and take action today

.

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