Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bite the Bullet

THE POST'S John Solomon and '60 Minutes' teamed up this week to report that hundreds of defendants have been convicted with the help of a forensics test considered so shoddy that the FBI stopped using it more than two years ago. Yet, shockingly and inexcusably, the agency failed to unequivocally failed to notify those involved in criminal cases.

read more digg story

I cannot judge which breech of professional conduct is the more egregious - using the junk science in the first place or failing to inform defendants and the prosecution that the science, and testimony about the science, was junk. Compounding the latter is the fact that the FBI refused to divulge the names and cases in which the lead comparison test was introduced as evidence until after the story broke.

I find it ironic that the government wants to hold individuals (and less frequently organizations) accountable for this conduct. Part of this process involves an admission of wrong doing. All too often, however, when government makes a mistake, rarely is there any accountability and rarer still is an admission or an apology.

The primary damage from this scandal is to the individuals falsely accused and/or convicted. The crime victims' families and friends are again victimized by the government. In some cases, the real perpetrator is left free to commit further crimes. The secondary damage from this sordid episode is the further erosion of confidence in the criminal justice system to deliver anything resembling justice.

No comments: