Forensic evidence gets lots of respect from juries — some call it "the CSI effect" after the popular TV show (in all its spin-offs). However, this month we have even more news that justifies a less trusting view of evidence coming from a lab and being used to put someone behind bars — or on Death Row.
Big mistakes. Twenty-seven Death Row sentences.
Apparently, these FBI lab experts may have tied defendant to crimes that they did not commit using puffed-up scientific testimony.
We’ll know more later this summer when the FBI is going to release its tally with all the details of what cases, what experts, what testimony. Meanwhile, these Death Penalty cases are part of a larger group of 120 convictions that may be wrongful convictions based upon bad FBI forensic evidence.
What’s this review all about? It’s a review being done of FBI Lab files by the Department of Justice and the FBI with the National Association fo Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project watching what’s happening.
The review sprang out of earlier Washington Post investigations, where it was reported that the federal government had known for a very, very long time that its hair experts may have provided bad forensic evidence that had led to wrongful convictions – and that no one had done much to investigate these hair experts or to stop bad convictions from happening.
If you think this is just a FBI Lab glitch, think again.
Over in Texas, one single Houston Crime Lab technician named Jonathan Salvador has become infamous in some circles because his work has put literally THOUSANDS of criminal convictions in the State of Texas in question – read the final report on how bad this is from the Texas Forensic Science Commission.