The FBI's Response

Sunday, November 18, 2007

In response to the joint investigation by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes," the FBI is taking the following steps:

  • The FBI will seek to identify all cases in which bullet-lead matches contributed to the conviction of a defendant by searching its internal records, contacting local law enforcement and enlisting the help of the nonprofit Innocence Project run by lawyer Barry Scheck.
  • The Justice Department will seek from prosecutors the testimony transcripts of all FBI lab experts who testified about bullet-lead analysis in cases that resulted in conviction.
  • The transcripts will be reviewed by both the FBI and Justice to determine whether the testimony exceeded the limits of the science or was otherwise subject to misinterpretation.
  • The Justice Department will inform the prosecutor in any case involving flawed testimony so that appropriate action can be taken. If prosecutors determine such problematic testimony was "material" to a verdict, they ordinarily are obligated to contact the defendants or the courts.
  • The FBI will publish the lab reports for all bullet-lead examinations that resulted in matches and were used in successful prosecutions.
  • The FBI will cease submitting affidavits in cases where prosecutors are trying to sustain prior convictions based on bullet lead. In two current cases where affidavits have previously been submitted, the FBI will inform the prosecutors that those affidavits are now deemed confusing.
  • The FBI lab will institute an enhanced system for monitoring testimony by all of its scientists across all disciplines to ensure that statements to jurors comport with the findings contained in lab reports.

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