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Leahy demands FBI crime lab data

Nov. 22, 2007 at 8:27 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has demanded data from the Justice Department on cases involving FBI use of a forensics test that has been discredited.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded information on criminal cases in which prosecutors used FBI bullet-matching technology, and criticized the department for failing to notify defendants whose cases were influenced by what has turned out to be faulty science, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Leahy notified Attorney General Michael Mukasey he may be questioned on Capitol Hill about the technique known as comparative bullet-lead analysis. The Post and the CBS News program "60 Minutes" documented problems with the approach.

Leahy called the reports "just the latest examples of the department's inadequate efforts to ensure that sound forensic testing is utilized to the maximum extent to find the guilty rather than merely obtain a conviction."

Bullet-matching technology had been in use for four decades when the FBI stopped using it in 2005 amid questions about its reliability, the Post reported.

However, the FBI did not notify defendants in cases in which the method was used that it had been dropped -- even though the bureau knew many trials had featured inaccurate testimony or statistically flawed matches.

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