FBI lab’s new woes: lead bullets, DNA

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Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s laboratory, which was reformed after a mid-1990s scandal over bad science, faces new problems that have opened its work on lead bullets and DNA analysis to challenges by defense lawyers. Among incidents:

* FBI scientist Kathleen Lundy admitted giving false testimony about lead bullet analysis in a Kentucky case;

* An FBI lab technician resigned while under investigation for alleged improper testing of more than 100 DNA samples; the lab is now reviewing samples she placed into the FBI national database of DNA evidence;

* The Houston police crime lab was banned from placing new samples into the FBI’s DNA registry because of allegations of shoddy science in local cases;

* A retired lab metallurgists is challenging the bureau’s science on bullet analysis, prompting the FBI to ask National Academy of Sciences to review its methodology.

FBI Lab Director Dwight Adams said detection of the problems illustrates that reforms are working. But defense lawyers are already mounting challenges in high-profile cases and are questioning the FBI’s project to build a national DNA database that will help law enforcement identify suspects based on their genetic fingerprints. “We all have assumed the scientists are telling the truth because they do it with authority and tests. And as a result FBI scientists have gotten away with voodoo science,” said Lawrence Goldman, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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Link: http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FBI_LAB_PROBLEMS?SITE=OHCLE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DE

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