Washington, DC (April 15, 1997) -- The Inspector General's investigation into practices and misconduct at the FBI lab raises more questions than it answers, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said today. The Justice Department's final report, released to the public today as a result of legal action brought by NACDL, identifies deficient work in the few high profile cases it analyzes, casting serious doubt on the integrity of the entire lab. Concentrating primarily on misconduct in only three departments -- the Explosives Unit, the Materials Analysis Unit, and the Chemistry-Toxicology Unit -- the edited 517-page report raises the specter of a national scandal of mammoth proportions.
"There are over 20 different units in the lab, and the Inspector General was only able to look at three," said NACDL President Judy Clarke, a federal public defender in Spokane, WA. "The prevailing culture of the lab, which involves examiners not properly performing or documenting tests, and preparing inaccurate reports, and agents testifying about matters beyond their expertise, and much more, suggests that thousands of prosecutions may have been tainted.
"Questions of who, what, when, and how remain. Whose cases have been compromised? What has been ignored, covered up or covered over? When will these persons get a fair trial? How can possibly innocent Americans, wrongly convicted, identify their particular case from the limited scope of this review?"
There is more at stake here than the reputation of the FBI, Clarke said. "The lives and liberty of American citizens are on the line. If the FBI takes the report's recommendations to heart, future injustices may be avoided, but what about those condemned to prison who were cheated out of a fair trial? How will this report help them?"
NACDL sued the Justice Department in federal court in Washington, DC, Feb. 24 to force public release of the draft report. Attorneys for NACDL and the Justice Department will be back in court Wednesday (Apr. 16) before U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, "to try to determine what further steps can be taken to ensure fairness and due process. This now-documented miscarriage of justice may impact literally thousands of pending and past prosecutions," said Clarke.
A copy of the report is available by clicking on the button below:
The FBI Laboratory: An Investigation into Laboratory Practices and Alleged Misconduct in Explosives-Related and Other Cases (April,1997)
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.
NACDL Communications Department
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.