Washington, DC (Jan. 27, 2016) -- George D. Perrot was granted a new trial yesterday in Massachusetts based on newly-discovered evidence that the FBI's microscopic hair comparison testimony contained scientifically invalid statements. The court found that the hair examiner's testimony was "enormously influential" and material to the convictions. This decision follows a trend in recognizing that evolving science constitutes newly-discovered evidence.
"The court found that the scientific errors identified by the FBI review constituted newly-discovered evidence, that the hair comparison testimony in Mr. Perrot's case would be inadmissible if offered today, and also that it was material to his convictions," said NACDL Senior Resource Counsel Vanessa Antoun. "This illustrates the critical importance of uncovering cases with invalid or exaggerated forensic evidence and providing meaningful notification—a duty to correct that the FBI and DOJ have acknowledged through this review, which sets an important new standard for law enforcement throughout the country."
The errors in the hair comparison testimony in Mr. Perrot's case were identified through the FBI's Review, conducted in conjunction with the DOJ and in partnership with NACDL and the Innocence Project. Mr. Perrot is the first defendant to receive a new trial as a result of the findings of the Microscopic Hair Comparison Review. His is one of over 1,500 cases that have been reviewed thus far. The result in this case underpins NACDL's commitment to finding representation for all effected defendants. Indeed, NACDL's important work in this area was cited by the Court in its order.
"NACDL looks forward to courts around the country recognizing that the results of the Microscopic Hair Comparison Review constitute newly-discovered evidence," NACDL President E.G. "Gerry" Morris said. "And we encourage all state labs to undertake their own review of the hair comparison work and testimony of all FBI-trained examiners."
The United States Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Innocence Project, and NACDL reported in April 2015 that the FBI has concluded that the examiners' testimony in at least 90 percent of trial transcripts the Bureau analyzed as part of its Microscopic Hair Comparison Analysis Review contained erroneous statements. Twenty-seven of twenty-eight FBI agents/analysts provided either testimony with erroneous statements or submitted laboratory reports with erroneous statements. The review focuses on cases worked prior to 2000, when mitochondrial DNA testing on hair became routine at the FBI. That review is ongoing.
Anyone involved in a case that utilized microscopic hair comparison evidence is encouraged to contact NACDL Post-Conviction Counsel Amelia Maxfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-465-7646.
To learn more about the Microscopic Hair Comparison Review Project, please visit http://www.nacdl.org/haircomparison/.
NACDL's work in the area of forensic science reform is extensive. A link to NACDL's "Crime Labs & Forensics Reform" website landing page is available here. NACDL's Report, Principles and Recommendations for Strengthening Forensic Science in the Courtroom, is available here.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
Ivan J. Dominguez, NACDL Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or email@example.com for more information.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.