News 11.20.07

Washington Post: FBI must move quickly to right wrongs

A joint investigation by the Washington Post and CBS News’ “60 Minutes” released this week showed that hundreds of people may have been wrongfully convicted based on faulty bullet lead analysis by the FBI. The FBI has known about the problem for years, but only this week said it would release details and records of cases in which the unreliable forensic process was used. Yesterday,

the Innocence Network and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers announced the formation of a joint task force to assist and monitor the case review


Today, an editorial in the Washington Post says the FBI has finally done the right thing to promise steps to rectify these errors. This episode should remind prosecutors and law enforcement officials, the paper says, that fair justice is always the goal in a criminal case.

It is troubling that some law enforcement officials seem to have forgotten their legal and moral obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence that could help a defendant. This obligation not only ensures that innocent people are spared incarceration but also helps government to focus on capturing real perpetrators. Justice — not victory — should be the sole purpose of prosecutions. This principle should be foremost in the minds of FBI agents and Justice Department lawyers as they review these cases.

Read the full editorial here


Another Washington Post story yesterday detailed the case of former Balitmore police sergeant James A. Kulbicki , who was convicted of murder in 1995 based on bullet analysis. The expert who testified about the gun has since committed suicide amid questions about his credentials and testimony in other cases.

Read the full story here


View the Washington Post’s interactive feature on this investigation here


Learn more about unreliable science as a cause of wrongful conviction here


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