“Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept.”

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

When you cover and read about this sort of thing everyday, you can sometimes build up a resistance to headlines like the one above.

But I mean holy hell. This ought to be pictchforks-in-the-streets stuff.

Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.

Officials started reviewing the cases in the 1990s after reports that sloppy work by examiners at the FBI lab was producing unreliable forensic evidence in court trials. Instead of releasing those findings, they made them available only to the prosecutors in the affected cases, according to documents and interviews with dozens of officials.

In addition, the Justice Department reviewed only a limited number of cases and focused on the work of one scientist at the FBI lab, despite warnings that problems were far more widespread and could affect potentially thousands of cases in federal, state and local courts.

As a result, hundreds of defendants nationwide remain in prison or on parole for crimes that might merit exoneration, a retrial or a retesting of evidence using DNA because FBI hair and fiber experts may have misidentified them as suspects.

If it isn’t there already, the next sentence should put your chin on the floor.

Justice Department officials said that they met their legal and constitutional obligations when they learned of specific errors, that they alerted prosecutors and were not required to inform defendants directly.

I mean, think about that. Taxpayer-paid employees of the Justice Department had direct and exclusive knowledge that there may be hundreds of innocent people in prison, they knew that flawed forensics in these cases needed to be reviewed, and their justification for not doing more as these people continued to rot in prison was, Hey, we did the bare minimum required of us by law.

The immediately obvious problem here is that the ethical requirements need to be strengthened. If the task force charged with investigating possible wrongful convictions is only required to report what it finds to the prosecutor offices that won those convictions—and who obviously have a strong incentive to keep the new information under wraps—what the hell was the point of forming the task force in the first place? And why keep the task force findings from the public?

But even beyond the problematic ethical requirements, I’m having a hard time fathoming how no one on this task force felt morally compelled to go beyond those requirements—to, you know, actually reach out defense attorneys, or attempt to actually reach the convicts or their families. How in the world can you possess this sort of information, then still sleep at night, year after year, knowing that (a) the information obviously isn’t reaching the people who have an incentive to actually put it to use,  (b) you’re one of the few people who could make that happen, and (c) because the information was only available to select group of people, if you or one of your colleagues doesn’t act, no one else will?

I’m obviously fairly skeptical of government. And the criminal justice system is loaded with bad incentives. But I can’t really even think of what poorly-structured incentive would have prevented the members of this task force from doing more than the bare minimum that was required of them. It isn’t as if they were personally responsible for these mistakes. The mind boggles at the mental firewalls an otherwise decent person would have to construct to know this was happening, and still do nothing to stop it.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

63 Responses to ““Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept.””

  1. #1 |  35-year lawyer | 

    No employee of the BUREAU shall ever, for whatever reason, nor for whatever goal (including Justice) expose any error of any part of the Bureau under any circumstances without the direct, specific, and express permission of the Director. Not ever.

    FBI SOP #1001.

  2. #2 |  John P. | 

    They don’t care… infact they prefer as many people in jail as possible.

  3. #3 |  Sorenzeo | 

    DOJ obviously is, and has long been, aligned with the prosecution in all cases. They refuse to help those whom the heavy hand of government is pressing down on.

  4. #4 |  EH | 

    If what the DOJ says is true, then there should be records of which prosecutors were notified.

  5. #5 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    Jesus Christ, that’s four nut punches in one day, Radley! I don’t know what my future children did to make you so angry, but would you please have mercy on me?

  6. #6 |  TomPaine4 | 

    Perhaps, Radley, I am just laying out explicitly your implicit point, but here it is. You say that you are “having a hard time fathoming how no one on this task force felt morally compelled” to do something. And you wonder about the mental firewalls “an otherwise decent person would have to construct.”

    The government’s lawyers are NOT “otherwise decent.” Inflicting harm is what they choose to spend their lives doing. People outside of government may be otherwise decent. But those inside are not. Pretty simple.

  7. #7 |  z | 

    Isn’t this story like a decade old? Why is the Washington Post rehashing it now like it’s a new breakthrough?

  8. #8 |  Bob | 

    That is so fucked up.

    The more I look at these problems… And I mean all problems, from judicial misconduct to ridiculous food regulations… the solution becomes more and more obvious:

    Complete transparency.

    With complete transparency in all things, the only regulation you need is to be completely transparent. You want to put trans fats, pink slime, or even fucking LEAD in food? Go for it! Just be fully transparent about it. Same thing with Prosecutors… ALL information they have must go to the defense, and to the public as well. If it can be heard in a PUBLIC court, it can be posted on the internet.

  9. #9 |  Ryan P | 

    I assume the thinking goes like this, “It’s okay that the person who actually committed these crimes is possibly still out on the streets victimizing people because they probably won’t rape, assault, kill, etc. a person I care about.”

  10. #10 |  albatross | 

    Would the Justice employees in possession of this information have lost their jobs or blighted their careers, had they shared this information with defense attorneys?

  11. #11 |  “We don’t have to care; we’re the Justice Department” « Blunt Object | 

    [...] “Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept.” (The Agitator) Radley quotes a WaPo story thus: Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled. [...]

  12. #12 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    And it comes back to; the agents of the State should have to face some consequences for actions that arguably harm some innocent person. Charges of wrongful imprisonment, in this case. If you are going to put people in prison it is you goddamned moral responsibility to make sure that they belong there, and to rectify matters if it develops that they don’t. Failure to do so should, at a minimum, put your job and pension at risk.

  13. #13 |  Resistance | 

    This should not be a surprise to anyone that is paying attention. We live in a Police State, and the Prison Industrial Complex is big time business that’s in bed with Law Enforcement Agencies and the Courts.

  14. #14 |  Bob Mc | 

    “Justice Department officials said that they met their legal and constitutional obligations when they learned of specific errors, that they alerted prosecutors and were not required to inform defendants directly”.

    In articles like this, the “Justice” Department, should be referred to as the “so called justice” department. Or maybe, in the interest of transparency, it’s name should be changed to “the conviction factory”.

  15. #15 |  Dante | 

    Why would the Justice Dept. allow innocent people to rot in jail?

    Because they can.

    In our criminal justice bureaucracy, there is no justice because all of the people employed are criminals.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

    It’s not just the cops. It’s the whole freakin’ system.

  16. #16 |  SJE | 

    Obama could make a big splash by pardoning all of these people.

  17. #17 |  Marty | 

    this makes tax day even better. damn.

  18. #18 |  Whim | 

    After I become President of the U.S., one of my first executive orders will to rename the following Agencies:

    The U.S. Department of Justice = U.S. Department of INjustice.

    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) = Federal Investigative Bureau (FIB).

  19. #19 |  35-year lawyer | 

    The Supreme Court’s qualified and absolute immunity rules are responsible for 90% of this. If you can never be held accountable, who cares. Federal agents at all levels don’t.

    And, BTW, most career prosecutors are not “outerwise decent”. That’s why you can’t find any to stand up and STOP this. A hundred pink slips would do the job. If not, send out 100 more until the problem goes away.

    The Manual for Courts Martial, Rule 701, provides for two-way 100% information exchange. The sky has not fallen on Military Justice.

  20. #20 |  Brandon | 

    Came here to say what #19 said. I don’t know how, after all of your work, you can still assume that the people who pull crap like this are “otherwise decent.” The decent people don’t tend to last very long in government service.

  21. #21 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Otherwise decent? And what leads you to that conclusion?

  22. #22 |  Deoxy | 

    As others have said, these are not “otherwise decent” people. The incentive structure in place removes “otherwise decent” people from the pool very quickly, leaving the not “otherwise decent” people to hang about and reinforce those incentives.

  23. #23 |  NL_ | 

    Investigator: “This guy is acting weird. He must be guilty. Time to mark this case as solved.”

    Prosecutor: “The investigator did all the work, so this guy must be guilty. I’ll wave the evidence around and force a plea so I can spend my time on a more interesting case. Better things to do.”

    Defense attorney: “Okay, my client is probably guilty so I’ll do damage control and talk him into taking a plea. No point dying on this hill when he’s going to lose anyway. I have other cases to work.”

    Judge: “The case is a little thin, but the investigator and the prosecutor think it’s solid, so I’ll let the jury sort this out. Not my problem.”

    Juror: “The investigator is so convinced and the prosecutor is so smart, they must be right. If the guy’s not guilty, why did they arrest him?”

    DOJ employee: “This evidence may look fishy, but these people were prosecuted in a fair trial overseen by a learned judge, zealously represented by defense counsel, and convicted by an informed jury of his peers. Not my problem.”

  24. #24 |  roger | 

    Radley’s articles and writings keep circling back to an awful fact: prosecutors and cops in the US operate increasingly with total impunity and unchecked power, free of consequences. Can’t we get better psych exams for any and all people who wish to pursue a career in law enforcement and/or criminal justice?
    Prosecutors should have to put in some time at the public defender’s office. And cops? Policing should be like jury duty, with every able citizen’s name in the hat.

  25. #25 |  el coronado | 

    To quote the late, lamented Joker, “It’s allll part of the…*Plan*.”

    The thing is, all the players are in on it. A story like this should be the lead on every broadcast & cable news show for WEEKS. It should be the primary topic on talk radio for months. There should be demonstrations around the country that make the Trayvon bunch look like pikers. A story like this should make the Abu Ghraib media frenzy look like a formal high tea.

    10 will get you 250 none of it’s gonna happen.

    The MSM, left and ultra-left, will disappear this story, (as will 90%+ of talk radio and the blogs) each for their own ideological reasons. Because *that’s* what really counts nowdays, not some “sorry-ass convicts who’re probably guilty of SOMEthing so fuck ‘em”.

    So that leaves our Last Best Hope, Congress. Yeah – I know.

  26. #26 |  LionsDentist | 

    #4 EH has the solution:

    The DOJ has given liberty-lovers a blessing in disguise. If DOJ, as they claim, has clean-ish hands by having duly informed the hundreds of respective Prosecutors, then the hands of those hundreds of respective Prosecutors are commensurately self-soiled. A list of Prosecutors that DOJ claims were notified of who-what-when-how can start hundreds of respective threads of inquiry into prima facia malfeasant Prosecutors Can somebody FOIA this list of DOJ informing-of-Prosecutors?

  27. #27 |  BamBam | 

    Radley, you can’t be an otherwise decent person and be in the position to do what is right and choose not to do so. The 2 behavior descriptions are mutually exclusive by definition.

    An evil, don’t give a shit, after me then you come first person has no qualms behaving in such an evil manner.

  28. #28 |  JOR | 

    The moral blinders that caused these people to act the way they did are the same moral blinders that cause cops to dress up as ninja warriors and storm peoples’ houses on drug/poker/gun busts. If ‘bad incentives’ don’t absolve these fucks, then they don’t absolve the Good Cops who are committing highway banditry, shooting homeless woodcarvers, beating the shit out of dudes caught walking while black, blowing up kids, shooting dogs, raping “bad” girls, and (at best!!) dutifully operating speed traps and uneventfully and unceremoniously kidnapping and imprisoning peaceful poker players/drug users/etc. They don’t absolve the stupid fucking pig that got himself killed raiding Cory Maye’s place.

    ‘Bad incentives’ are never an excuse. At best they’re an aggravating factor. There are a lot of conflicting incentives in the world. Individuals choose the ones they want to follow.

  29. #29 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Gives you that warm fuzzy feeling knowing that YOUR public servants are looking out for YOUR wellbeing.

  30. #30 |  SPO | 

    Look at what has happened to the whistleblowers in the Fast & Furious scandal. Does that answer everyone’s questions about why DOJ employees didn’t do more?

  31. #31 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Blaming “taxpayer funded” people, when the directive would have come from the political leadership is flipping ridiculous.

    @24 – Or, again, prosecution should be a civil service, detached from the police’s command and control.

  32. #32 |  John | 

    While I often have that “we ought to be rioting in the streets for justice” when reading what you highlight I’ve got a different question. Why isn’t the ABA and similar legal organizations helping to expose these forensic problems? I find it hard to believe that none of them are trying to make defense attorneys aware of the problems.

    Is this maybe more a case of too defense attorneys being inept/indifferent to the plight of their clients and possible having too many protections from harms done through ignorance of legal proceedings and processes?

  33. #33 |  StrangeOne | 

    The “otherwise decent” comments reminds of Malcolm Gladwell’s analysis of the paternalistic racism inherent in the story “To Kill a Mockingbird”. There is one instance where a local farmer has organized a lynch mob and is talked down by the protagonist. Later on he is asked by his daughter why the farmer would do such a thing, and he responds with some platitude about him being essentially a good man with prejudices.

    Gladwell rightly points out that the notion that a man who goes around starting lynch mobs is still considered an inherently good man from the protagonists perspective just further illustrates the ludicrous double standards of morality at the time.

    The truth about these “good people” at the DoJ is that they are human beings who have acclimated themselves to an institutional evil based on the standards of their peers, the victims of this system are never given consideration. I imagine at some point in every young investigators or prosecutors career they arrive at a case with serious doubts, but when all the seasoned veterans barrel through the process anyways only a person of very strong convictions is likely to speak up (and likely get fired or passed over for promotions). They judge themselves based on the responses of people with more experience than them.

    Eventually every idealistic person within such a corrupt institution becomes corrupt themselves, not out of a conscious evil decision, but simply because they become accustomed to the corruption. Things that any outsider would regard as plainly evil, they regard with mundane detachment, its just part of the job. And this is giving them the generous benefit of the doubt that the actually took the jobs with any ideals in place to begin with.

  34. #34 |  pichachu | 

    Shorter version: The U.S. government is evil; really purely and from the top to the bottom evil. It’s so evil it probably can’t be reformed or fixed. It probably could have at one time but I kind of looks like its just too far gone now.

  35. #35 |  GT | 

    How is anybody surprised by this? I mean honestly, you would have to have been idealistic to being with, then been lobotomised, then put into a Fritzl-style bunker for the whole of your fucking adult life, to ‘miss’ the fact that only sociopaths can climb the blood-and-grease soaked pole in the ‘Justice’ system.

    Here’s a hint as to how fucked things have got: Samuel Fucking Alito is on the Supreme Court, for fuck’s sake. John Fucking Roberts is Chief fucking ‘Justice’ – a guy whose main career has been as a political lickspittle and lackey (absent some post-Reagan time spent in the private sector to help try to explain where all his money came from). Fat Tony Scalia, Uncle Tom Thomas, that new lesbian beaner (can’t remember her name off-hand)… they are, to a ‘man’, people whose lives have been spent at the tax tit.

    The fact that the highest value alternative use for these people – in their 50s – is a $200k/yr job (when a decent 35 year old Senior Associate in private practice earns that) shows that they aren’t actually that flash, and/or that they sought the POWER of being a SC ‘justice’ … that is worth more to them than being a partner at a big firm (earning millions, and still getting plenty of ‘non-pecuniary’ income).

    It’s no different elsewhere in the ‘Laura Norder’ sector – as I have written elsewhere, nobody stays at CIA/NSA/DIA/FBI for more than their initial 2-year hitch: they sign up at GS5 on $45k/year, and rapidly discover that everyone above them is a total asshole, and incompetent. They then have to decide whether to play on (becoming a careerist triangulating arsehole), or leave.

    To become a senior prosecutor, is to have shown your overlords that you are prepared to do whatever it takes to get the right number of ticks on your sheet. You’re ‘safe hands’: otherwise said – whatever principles you might have had on leaving law school have been well and truly discarded (assuming you weren’t always just another fucking shitbag politician).

    People have to stop deluding themselves that there is anything special about the geriatric robed charlatans who play the starring roles in the State’s 16th-century set piece theatrics: becoming a judge is similar to becoming a Cardinal – it’s based on the patronage of the powerful, which is achieved by toadying, nepotism and corruption.

  36. #36 |  GT | 

    Oops… error. Should have been “that new lesbian and the beaner”… I had rolled Kagan(ovitch) and Sotomayer into one hellish lesbi-beaner.

  37. #37 |  John C. Randolph | 

    Any law enforcement officer who withholds exculpatory evidence from the defense is guilty of obstruction of justice. The law is perfectly clear on that.

    If the FBI has an actual policy to do so systematically, then anyone participating in this criminal activity is part of a conspiracy to deprive citizens of their civil rights under color of authority, and that’s a federal crime punishable by a ten-year stretch in Leavenworth, PER COUNT.

    The only hope we have of seeing these perps prosecuted and our rights restored is to elect Ron Paul.

    -jcr

  38. #38 |  Delta | 

    It’s because this was an enormously clever test by the DOJ to see which prosecutors failed to turn over the evidence to defense attorneys, and then charge said prosecutors and get them removed. Amiright!?

    #23: You only left out the part where the system scrupulously filters out any jurors that present any opinion, knowledge of the justice system, or non-sheep-like behavior in voire dire.

  39. #39 |  Anti Federalist | 

    And now you know, how good, decent, upstanding German volk knowingly signed the documents, processed the paperwork, stamped the travel certifications and did all the other trivial management tasks that sent 12 million people to mass graves.

    Indeed, now you know how it was done in the USSR, in China, in Africa in South America and soon, here.

    Mild mannered “civil servants” and “brave policemen” doing their jobs and civic and patriotic duty.

    And they all went home and slept well each night.

    A moral compass to denounce, and the outrage that accompanies, these daily petty tyrannies are unique to our happy little band of refuseniks.

    To most people it doesn’t even enter their mind.

    Because you see, most people do not want liberty, nor freedom nor even justice. They want want people throughout mankind’s history have always wanted: to be fed, entertained and, if possible, to exercise petty power over their fellow man.

    And you’ll rot in jail before anybody takes a risk at upsetting that.

  40. #40 |  Rob S | 

    Anyone see the game last night? (and what is a pitchfork?)

  41. #41 |  Rick H. | 

    #23 NL_ : Excellent summary of the legal system.

  42. #42 |  Mike T | 

    The mind boggles at the mental firewalls an otherwise decent person would have to construct to know this was happening, and still do nothing to stop it.

    Probably because this is typical of how modern teachers teach morality to students. When you adopt the modern view of man (homo economicus) instead of the classical view of man as an individual who must order his passions, impose discipline upon them and search out truth and morality in all situations, this is what you get.

  43. #43 |  Deoxy | 

    ‘Bad incentives’ are never an excuse. At best they’re an aggravating factor. There are a lot of conflicting incentives in the world. Individuals choose the ones they want to follow.

    Yes, that was exactly my point. If you’re not following the incentives, if they don’t “work” for you, you are much MUCH more likely to go find a job where the incentives DO work for you.

    Incentives act like a filter – bad incentives, over time, filter out the good people.

    Those who are left aren’t EXCUSED by the incentives, they are self-selected to follow them. They are the lousy, “bad”, NOT “otherwise decent” people.

  44. #44 |  Deoxy | 

    Italics fix? I hope…

  45. #45 |  Deoxy | 

    OK, that didn’t work – probably gonna take a moderator.

  46. #46 |  tulip | 

    Radley,
    Are you aware of this? http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/04/debtors-prison-for-failure-to-pay-for-your-own-trial.html

  47. #47 |  perlhaqr | 

    The US Government in all its agencies looks more and more like Sodom and Gomorrah each day. And if you were asked to find even ten righteous people among them, you might well fail.

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and someone will turn them all to pillars of salt. (A particularly poetic end to Bloomberg, I’d say. ;) )

  48. #48 |  Player1 | 

    A quotation that should, and hopefully will, appear around here more often…

    “The world is my country, Mankind is my brethren and to do good is my religion.”
    -Thomas Paine

  49. #49 |  JOR | 

    #43, I agree with all that, obviously. My rant was directed at people who are outraged at the individuals responsible for this kind of banal evil but still wring their hands and tiptoe around the same obvious truth when it comes to, say, armed raids against nonviolent offenders (or wrong door raids), etc.

  50. #50 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “The US Government in all its agencies looks more and more like Sodom and Gomorrah each day.”

    Yeah, I noticed. Corrupt, induglent and reckless in direct proportion to
    how bossy and nosy they get toward us…. What crazy times.
    Every day a new alphabet soup group (GSA,TSA,DEA, DHS) caught
    breaking the law…

  51. #51 |  Juice | 

    Did anyone watch Frontline last night? It was a pretty good take down of forensics “experts”.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/real-csi/

  52. #52 |  Juice | 

    Let me try a closed italics tag and see if that works.

    Did it work?

  53. #53 |  Cyto | 

    I watched the Frontline report on forensics last night. It is a pretty good watch – particularly for the intended audience. They use the Kaylee Anthony case as a hook in the second half of the show – which might draw in a few viewers.

    My wife loves “CSI” type things, so I was telling her about the Hayne/West part of the story this morning. She wondered why this isn’t a national news story – how it doesn’t make the “CBS Evening News”…. then proceeded to check out of the conversation before I could tell her about the video of West and the dental mold. Unfortunately most people – even people who are interested and receptive to the topic – most people are just not able to hold on for a difficult and complicated argument. They want something that is feel-good, or it has to fit neatly into a 60 second package.

    I was chatting with some parents at the kids’ baseball game last night. A fairly tea-party-ish group was discussing the excesses of local and state government. They got off onto the police pay (higher than you’d believe, they said), but universally believed they were doing a dangerous job and we need more SWAT teams. They were firmly convinced that “a hundred police are killed in the line of duty just in Miami every year”. I tried to point out that not even a hundred are shot and killed every year nation wide, but they quit listening. I was the kook who thinks that cops should’t shoot child molesters and drug dealers on sight (’cause if they don’t shoot them, the cops won’t go home to their families). Forget bringing up the fact that a few hundred unarmed citizens are killed by police every year during arrest… they checked out long before that point. Any nutter who thinks that the police are not being gunned down every day is to be avoided.

    I mourn my lack of rhetorical skills – I had a somewhat receptive audience and I couldn’t move them off of the idea that hundreds of police are being slaughtered in our city, and they almost never shoot the wrong people. That should have been a slam-dunk. But even with FBI statistics at hand, all I was able to elicit was “you can find a website that will spin any statistic any way you want”. In fact, having actual facts at hand was something of a disadvantage. People don’t like having opinion confronted with fact, so they do the mental gymnastics of moving your “fact” into the realm of “opinion” and then invalidate the facts. If anything they dug in to their position even more tenaciously when I pulled out FBI police fatality statistics.

  54. #54 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    53..Yeah, I tell parents, strangers, students the “Land of the Free” has 2.3 million people locked up. All I get is this blank stare.

  55. #55 |  Jay | 

    I emailed a few newspapers and smaller weeklies, and was basically told, ‘unless there is a Colorado connection this story won’t ever be reported on here.’.

    Any way to get more info on this stuff?

  56. #56 |  CyniCAl | 

    “I can’t really even think of what poorly-structured incentive would have prevented the members of this task force from doing more than the bare minimum that was required of them. ” — RB

    Some quick brainstorming: apathy, groupthink, more apathy, viewing the convicted as “the other,” pressure from superiors to remain quiet, more groupthink, crimethink, desire to not rock the boat, satisfaction with minimal acceptable effort instilled by the group culture, feelings of helplessness when faced with the bureaucracy, fear of retribution for whistleblowing and a whole lot more apathy, apathy apathy.

    Plenty of incentives there. Maybe not the monetary sort, unless you count preserving one’s [pathetic, evil] career as monetary, and I’m sure the average bureaucrat thinks exactly that.

  57. #57 |  Screwed over military whistleblower | 

    To 35-year Lawyer. U said, “The Manual for Courts Martial, Rule 701, provides for two-way 100% information exchange. The sky has not fallen on Military Justice.”. I guess you never heard of any abuses by military police. I guess you never heard of junior JAG’s bowing before the power and authority of senior officer commanders. And I suppose you never in your 35-year career ever witnessed or personally experienced the full blown effect of “undue command influence”. Didn’t you know since 2003, Navy CO’s have been granted “wide latitude” in their exercise of military justice? Sure, 100% information exchange, cognitive dissonance

  58. #58 |  Fascist Nation | 

    And this?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/doj-review-of-flawed-fbi-forensics-processes-lacked-transparency/2012/04/17/gIQAFegIPT_story.html

    Frederic Whitehurst, a chemist and lawyer who worked in the FBI’s crime lab, testified that he was told by his superiors to ignore findings that did not support the prosecution’s theory of the bombing.

    “There was a great deal of pressure put upon me to bias my interpretation,” Whitehurst said in U.S. District Court in New York in 1995.

  59. #59 |  Lowly2L | 

    I was under the impression that prosecutors have a continuing duty to disclose Brady material that extends, essentially, in perpetuity. Not only does caselaw support this but here is the the relevant ABA ethics rule (3.8):

    (g) When a prosecutor knows of new, credible and material evidence creating a reasonable likelihood that a convicted defendant did not commit an offense of which the defendant was convicted, the prosecutor shall:

    (1) promptly disclose that evidence to an appropriate court or authority, and

    (2) if the conviction was obtained in the prosecutor’s jurisdiction,

    (i) promptly disclose that evidence to the defendant unless a court authorizes delay, and

    (ii) undertake further investigation, or make reasonable efforts to cause an investigation, to determine whether the defendant was convicted of an offense that the defendant did not commit.

    Presumably, most states have adopted a similar rule. For those SA’s who were informed of this info and chose not to disclose, they should be looking at a serious bar complaint. However, I won’t hold my breath waiting for them to be disciplined.

  60. #60 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    But I can’t really even think of what poorly-structured incentive would have prevented the members of this task force from doing more than the bare minimum that was required of them.

    Simple: “Do nothing and you’ll do nothing wrong.”

  61. #61 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    But I can’t really even think of what poorly-structured incentive would have prevented the members of this task force from doing more than the bare minimum that was required of them.

    Simple: “Do nothing and you’ll do nothing wrong.”

    Also: “One ‘dumbshit’ wipes out 14,000 ‘attaboys’.”

  62. #62 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #17 Marty: “this makes tax day even better. damn.”

    Good point. This is one of those depressing “your tax dollars at work” stories.

    Today in my local paper, I saw to interesting “Red Team, Blue Team” stories. In the first, a protest for tax fairness was being covered. The reporter said that the crowd was chanting “tax the rich, tax the rich.” Boring. I then flipped the page and saw a story about how Republicans in congress are trying to cut food stamp programs. Nothing unusual there either. Same old, same old.

    Team Red and Team Blue need to read more stories about the massive waste–in lives and public funds–that is being promoted by the prison-industrial complex and the war on drugs. You want to save money? You want to lowere your taxes? Well we could save a whole lot of money by ending the war on drugs and the obsession with incarceration. Oh, and we could also stop intervening in the affairs of other countries.

    But Team Red and Team Blue would rather just pick on rich people and welfare recepients. Why? I guess its just the way we’ve always done it ’round here.

  63. #63 |  supercat | 

    #62 | Helmut O’ Hooligan | “…and saw a story about how Republicans in congress are trying to cut food stamp programs. Nothing unusual there either. Same old, same old.”

    Unexpected charity can sometimes benefit giver and recipient, but expectations of charity are **HIGHLY TOXIC**. The government has spent decades encouraging a substantial segment of society to become OPM addicts (“Other People’s Money). Weaning all those people from the government teat isn’t going to be easy or pleasant, but OPM addiction is horribly destructive to the recipients of “government largesse”; those who want to continue to enable people’s addictions are doing the addicts no favors.

Leave a Reply