Forensic, legal experts to discuss evidence standards

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Backlogged Forensics Lab Sends Back Evidence Untested

WEST HAVEN — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is bringing together forensic specialist Henry Lee, lawyers and legal experts to discuss forensic evidence standards.

The Justice Department and FBI acknowledged last month that nearly every examiner in the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants for more than 20 years before 2000.

In all, the faulty methods were used to convict 257 people of rape, murder and other violent crime. In one 1978 case, according to a press release from Blumenthal’s office, experts said the odds were “10-million-to-one” that the hair strands could be any person except a defendant charged with murder. The hair was later determined to have come from a dog.

Of those convicted of cases in which the testing was used, 32 were sentenced to death, and 14 have already been executed or died in prison.

The Innocence Project is working with the FBI, Department of Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to review 3,000 cases prior to 2000 in which that type of DNA testing was used.

Blumenthal has called on the Department of Justice and FBI to correct problems linked to flawed hair analysis and identify other forensic science disciplines that warrant similar review.