Dr. Frederic Whitehurst

On July 22, 2014, Cynthia Schnedar, Deputy Inspector General at the Justice Department, was interviewed by Federal News Radio about the DOJ OIG’s recent bombshell report documenting how DOJ failed to properly review criminal convictions that were impacted by the FBI Lab scandal in the 1990s.

Notably, the OIG report found that 16 people were executed and 8 prisoners died before there was a complete review of the scientific flaws in the evidence used to obtain those convictions. The OIG report lists 402 cases that the earlier DOJ review found were impacted by the FBI Lab scandal.

However, Deputy Inspector General Schnedar conceded in her radio interview that the number of cases actually impacted by the FBI Lab scandal “is really unknown” twenty years after the Justice Department started looking at problems in the FBI crime lab.

She also stated that many other defendants “may have died” or been deported before there was a review, and the DOJ’s earlier review improperly narrowed the scope leaving doubt as to whether innocent people were convicted with evidence from the FBI Lab.

Deputy IG Schnedar also stated in passing that the DOJ’s earlier review grew out of allegations raised by a FBI whistleblower.
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But IG Recommendations Fall Far Short

Twenty. Years. Yesterday, July 16, 2014, the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its third report of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Lab misconduct first alleged twenty years ago – in 1994 – by Dr. Frederic Whitehurst.

Washington Post Investigative Reporter Spencer S. Hsu, in his coverage of this latest report, summed it up by saying, “Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.”

To review the timeline:

In 1994 Fred Whitehurst first made his whistleblower allegations of shoddy science and manipulated evidence during court proceedings in the first World Trade bombing case and later to the Justice Dept. Inspector General.

In 1996, the Department of Justice (DOJ) set up a Task Force to investigate Dr. Whitehurst’s claims in order to determine if anyone was wrongfully convicted. At the same time, the OIG conducted its own evaluation, and issued the “1997 OIG Report” that found problems with 13 FBI Lab examiners and suggested that all of the forensic work of the criticized examiners be reviewed by the DOJ Task Force. The ensuing DOJ Task Force review was done in secret, they never issued a final report, and the FBI and DOJ later claimed that no convictions were overturned as a result of their intensive reviews.

In 1998, the FBI and DOJ agreed to settle Dr. Whitehurst’s whistleblower retaliation claims and paid him a record-breaking settlement amount of $1.16 million. [CNN, “FBI whistle-blower leaves, gets $1.16 million” (Feb. 27, 1998).]  
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FBI Crime Lab Whistleblower Featured on “The System with Joe Berlinger”

Washington, D.C.  May 29, 2014. This Sunday, June 1, Dr. Frederic Whitehurst will be featured on “The System with Joe Berlinger.” Dr. Whitehurst appears in the third episode of this multi-part documentary series that explores the state of our justice system. This episode is entitled “Flawed Forensics.”

Episode 3: Flawed ForensicsPremieres Sunday June 1st at 9E/6PNearly 20 years later, the fates of two men are still entangled in the FBI’s faulty hair analysis from all those years ago. Both men were found guilty of multiple murders and now one is on the outside, recently released and waiting for a retrial, while the other is still on death row, hoping the State will allow him the DNA test he needs to keep him alive.Check the schedule for local times and repeat airings

The interview follows up on whistleblower allegations first raised by Dr. Whitehurst in the 1990’s and confirmed by the Department of Justice Inspector General in 1998.
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The Washington Post and Associated Press are reporting that the Department of Justice failed to properly review more than 100 criminal cases that were prosecuted in the District of Columbia and which were suspected of being tainted by false forensic evidence from the FBI crime lab. These cases were ordered reviewed because in 1997 the DOJ Inspector General verified whistleblower allegations by Dr. Frederic Whitehurst about serious misconduct at the FBI lab.
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A D.C. Superior Court judge recently released Donald E. Gates, who spent 28 years in prison for a murder and rape he did not commit. The court also expunged Mr. Gates’ conviction after it was determined that the government’s expert, FBI crime lab examiner Michael P. Malone, lied about the hair and fibers evidence that Malone claimed linked Gates to the rape and murder.

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