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FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions. The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convict’s guilt. Related:  US of A Justice System

Fed-up cops post pictures of vagrants online NYPD cops fed up with vagrants making life miserable in the city are taking matters into their own hands — by snapping photos of quality-of-life scofflaws and posting them online. The Sergeants Benevolent Association is spearheading the effort, emailing a letter to members Monday urging them and their families and friends to take pictures to document the decline of the city. “As you travel about the city of New York, please utilize your smartphones to photograph the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type,” says the letter from SBA President Ed Mullins, a major critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio. The union then “will notify our public officials in writing of what is being observed,” he said. Modal Trigger “We will refer issues to the proper agencies, and we will help create accountability across the board.” “We, the ‘Good Guys,’ are sworn to protect our citizens.

The American Nightmare: the Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System How can the life of such a manBe in the palm of some fool’s hand?To see him obviously framedCouldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a landWhere justice is a game.—Bob Dylan, “Hurricane” Justice in America is not all it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit. James Bain spent 35 years in prison for the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old boy, but he too was innocent of the crime. Mark Weiner got off relatively easy when you compare his experience to the thousands of individuals who are spending lifetimes behind bars for crimes they did not commit. In the meantime, Weiner lost his job, his home, and his savings, and time with his wife and young son. The system that should have worked didn’t, because the system is broken, almost beyond repair. Unfortunately, in the real world, justice is harder to come by, fairness is almost unheard of, and truth rarely wins. It wasn’t always this way.

Judge Backs Charges Against Cleveland Officers in Killing of Tamir Rice Acting under a rarely used provision of Ohio state law, a judge found probable cause Thursday to charge Cleveland police Officer Timothy Loehmann with murder in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year. Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine also found cause to support negligent homicide charges against Officer Frank Garmback, Loehmann's partner, who is accused of standing by after Loehmann shot Tamir in November at a recreation center, where Tamir was playing with a pellet gun. Adrine agreed with local activists known as the "Cleveland 8" who took the unusual step of independently seeking charges because, they said, they'd lost confidence in the grand jury investigation. The ruling is only advisory and doesn't affect the separate grand jury investigation. Adrine — saying he wasn't performing an "end around" of the city or the county — said the choice to lodge charges remains with Cuyahoga County and Cleveland prosecutors. Related: Read the Judge's Full Order (PDF)

The New Science of Sentencing C riminal sentencing has long been based on the present crime and, sometimes, the defendant’s past criminal record. In Pennsylvania, judges could soon consider a new dimension: the future. Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign. Risk assessments have existed in various forms for a century, but over the past two decades, they have spread through the American justice system, driven by advances in social science. The tools try to predict recidivism — repeat offending or breaking the rules of probation or parole — using statistical probabilities based on factors such as age, employment history and prior criminal record. Like this story?

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site' | US news The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include: At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead. Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid.

Denver man charged with seven felonies for handing out 'jury nullification' fliers outside courthouse A Denver man has been charged with multiple felonies after he was caught distributing fliers to educate potential jurors about the practice of “jury nullification.” The Denver Post reported that 56-year-old Mark Iannicelli set up a small booth with a sign reading “Juror Info” outside the Lindsay-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver last week. The Denver District Attorney’s Office charged Iannicelli with seven counts of jury tampering after members of the jury pool were found to be in possession of fliers describing jury nullification. Jury nullification allows juries to acquit a defendant who they may believe is guilty if they also believe that the law is unjust. A copy of the criminal complaint obtained by Kirsten Tynan of the Fully Informed Jury Association says that Iannicelli “unlawfully and feloniously attempted directly and indirectly to communicate with” seven jurors. A probable cause statement added that Iannicelli was accused of “handing out information to potential jurors.”

After Christopher Dorner’s rampage, how to build community trust in police Given its history of scandal, the LAPD has spent a decade building a kinder, gentler organization and making significant strides in community-based policing. Even past detractors, including civil rights lawyer Connie Rice, admit that the LAPD has changed since the early 1990s. But people still associate the department with events of 20 years ago: the acquittal of officers accused of beating Rodney King, the subsequent L.A. riots and the resignation of Chief Daryl Gates. The department’s problems aren’t all in the past, either: In November, a jury awarded former officer Pedro Torres $2.8 million after finding that officials retaliated when he verified claims about an allegedly racist supervisor. During the past decade, 17 officers have won million-dollar-plus verdicts in lawsuits claiming harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Indeed, some people even sympathize with Dorner, despite his unconscionable acts. The solution? Police have long resisted external oversight.

huffingtonpost End Prosecutorial Immunity. Period. Prosecutorial misconduct is a reality. So is the lack of any meaningful legal recourse for its victims. Over at The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson uses the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to draw attention to this pressing and increasingly well-documented problem. Michaelson notes that among the most important impediments to holding prosecutors accountable for abuses of their authority is the fact that “prosecutors are granted immunity for most kinds of misconduct.” While federal law authorizes civil suits against government officers who violate constitutional and statutory rights, the Supreme Court has insulated prosecutors against liability by holding that they are entitled to absolute immunity from civil damages for actions taken as advocates. Simply put, when prosecutors violate our rights, no judge-created rule should prevent them from being held civilly liable. Where did absolute prosecutorial immunity come from? In Imbler v.

Why is Rev. Edward Pinkney in Prison? Another Case of Political Persecution Why is Rev. Edward Pinkney in prison? One answer comes to mind from my very first meeting with Pinkney in 2003. I drove from Lansing to Benton Harbor in southwest Michigan to witness a Berrien County Commissioners meeting soon after the Benton Harbor uprising. Standing outside City Hall, Pinkney said to me, “You know, they offered me a Cadillac. He did not shut up then, and he has not shut up ever since. For years, he’s been preaching that this monstrous conglomeration of business interests and state authority is of a piece. The vicious, cowardly attack on democracy in Benton Harbor, Michigan, shows that the corporate power structure is determined to crush anyone that stands in its way. Benton Harbor: the first city in Michigan subjected to the fascist rule of a state-appointed Emergency Financial Manager. Roger Bybee wrote, “There is no place in the United States that more cruelly illustrates the intensifying conflict between corporate power and democracy than Benton Harbor.” “Rev.

How Wall Street’s Bankers Stayed Out of Jail Business The probes into bank fraud leading up to the financial industry’s crash have been quietly closed. Is this justice? Please consider disabling it for our site, or supporting our work in one of these ways Subscribe Now > On May 27, in her first major prosecutorial act as the new U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch unsealed a 47-count indictment against nine FIFA officials and another five corporate executives. Lost in the hoopla surrounding the event was a depressing fact. Since 2009, 49 financial institutions have paid various government entities and private plaintiffs nearly $190 billion in fines and settlements, according to an analysis by the investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. The more meaningful number is how many Wall Street executives have gone to jail for playing a part in the crisis. At an event at the National Press Club last February, Holder said the virtual absence of convictions (or even prosecutions) this time around did not result from a want of trying.

Mississippi judge shrugs off innocent until proven guilty: People charged with crimes are criminals Circuit Court Judge Marcus D. Gordon (C-SPAN) A Mississippi judge displayed a startling lack of concern with constitutional rights during a one-on-one interview. Circuit Court Judge Marcus D. However, defendants routinely wait in jail for months without speaking to an attorney because Mississippi doesn’t set a time limit for prosecutors to seek an indictment. Gordon, who is facing an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit for excessive pretrial detention and denial of counsel, told a reporter that he understands the system is flawed, but he said most criminal defendants were “con people” who probably deserved jail time. “Lady, people charged with crimes, they are criminals, and they say what meets their purpose,” Gordon said. Gordon, who has sat on the bench for more than 35 years, presided over the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted in 2005 of manslaughter in the deaths 40 years earlier of three civil rights workers. “Are you believing the statements of the defendants?”

Why the Darknet Matters | Desultory Heroics By Luther Blissett and Fernando Villalovs of Arkesoul In February 2015 Ross Ulbricht was convicted of money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic narcotics for his role (either with or as Dread Pirate Roberts) in creating and administrating the darknet market Silk Road. For this, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest sentenced Ulbricht to life in prison without possibility for parole. Why was Ulbricht treated more severely than most murderers and child molesters (not to mention wall street and state criminals who do far more societal harm than all others combined)? The only logical explanation is that they needed to make an example out of him not just for his actions but for what he represented. The darknet is an anonymous overlay network accessed through special software, configurations and/or protocols. Interest in and use of the darknet has grown dramatically since TOR was released to the public in 2003. As is, the Darknet is a system that is continually evolving.