02.29.16

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Justice Department’s Expanded Review of Forensic Evidence

[The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that it is expanding its review of the FBI’s flawed hair-analysis unit to other forensic disciplines.  Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a former prosecutor, has pressed the Department to examine and update their forensic evidence standards in all disciplines.  He has also led oversight efforts to push the FBI and DOJ to review all cases where errors by the hair analysis unit may have been made and promptly notify impacted defendants.]

 

“The Justice Department and FBI have acknowledged that for two decades, nearly an entire unit of forensic examiners took the stand during criminal trials and exaggerated the scientific significance of important evidence.  I applaud the Department for taking responsibility and launching a full review so that the public can learn exactly what went wrong and how we can prevent this from ever happening again.  Americans need and deserve a criminal justice system worthy of its name.

“This important announcement comes the same day that Senator Cornyn and I reintroduce our bipartisan legislation, the Justice for All Reauthorization Act, to improve the accuracy and integrity of our criminal justice system.  This legislation, which includes the Innocence Protection Act, is just one indication of our commitment to improving our criminal justice system and ensuring that the innocent are free and the guilty are punished.”

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Senator Leahy is committed to ensuring the integrity of our criminal justice system. He has authored the Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Reform Act, which would improve the reliability of forensic evidence in criminal cases, as well as the Innocence Protection Act, a law that provides access to post-conviction DNA testing.  He also co-authored the bipartisan Justice for All Act, a law that has reduced the substantial backlog of DNA samples collected from crime scenes and convicted offenders, and improves and expands the DNA testing capacity of federal, state, and local crime laboratories, among other provisions.

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