Washington, DC (Oct. 20, 2017) – On Wednesday, prosecutors in Massachusetts dismissed charges against George D. Perrot. In January 2016, Perrot was granted a new trial based on newly-discovered evidence that the FBI's microscopic hair comparison testimony contained scientifically invalid statements. The errors in the hair comparison testimony in Mr. Perrot's case were identified through the FBI's Review, conducted in conjunction with the DOJ and in partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project. When the new trial was granted, the court found that the hair examiner's testimony was "enormously influential" and material to the convictions. While prosecutors had originally appealed this court's ruling, they stated on Wednesday in court documents that "the interests and administration of justice are best served by the termination of prosecution of this matter."
Vanessa Antoun, NACDL's Senior Resource Counsel said: "NACDL is very pleased that the charges against Mr. Perrot were dismissed, especially given that the convictions hinged on scientifically unsupported microscopic hair comparison testimony. We are hopeful that other convictions involving unreliable forensic evidence will also have a just result."
"Mr. Perrot can now seek to move on after 30 years of unjust incarceration," said NACDL President Rick Jones. "Grave miscarriages of justice like this underscore the critical importance of the DOJ and FBI's recognition that there is a duty to review and correct in criminal cases. This case further illustrates why the government must expand its review to other forensic disciplines to ensure that the evidence used is scientifically valid."
Mr. Perrot is the first to have his conviction vacated and dismissed based on the results of the FBI Microscopic Hair Comparison Analysis Review Project. His is one of over 1,800 cases that have been reviewed thus far. The DOJ, FBI, the Innocence Project, and NACDL reported in April 2015 that the FBI has concluded that the examiners' testimonies in over 90 percent of trial transcripts the Bureau analyzed as part of its review contained erroneous statements. The review focuses on cases worked prior to 2000, when mitochondrial DNA testing on hair became routine at the FBI. That review is still ongoing.
Anyone involved in a case that utilized microscopic hair comparison evidence is encouraged to contact Vanessa Antoun at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-465-7663.
To learn more about the Microscopic Hair Comparison Review Project, please visit http://www.nacdl.org/haircomparison/.
NACDL's work in the area of forensic science reform is extensive. A link to NACDL's "Crime Labs & Forensics Reform" website landing page is available here. NACDL's Report, Principles and Recommendations for Strengthening Forensic Science in the Courtroom, is available here.
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Alexandra Funk, NACDL Public Affairs & Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7647 or email@example.com
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.