OIG Report DOJ Follow-Up Project

 In 1996, the Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) began a review of the FBI crime lab after a whistleblower sought to shed light on what he believed were unethical and improper practices within the FBI lab.  During 1996-1997, while the OIG conducted its review of the lab, the Department of Justice created a task force.  Once the OIG issued its 1997 report[1], criticizing 13 different FBI examiners and making recommendations for better practices within the lab, the DOJ began a mission to review the lab work of those 13 criticized examiners, identify any errors in the lab work, and notify prosecuting agencies and defendants of the results in affected cases.  The DOJ Task Force operated from 1996-2004 but never truly completed its mission.    

 

Blood In July of 2014, the OIG issued a third report deeply criticizing how the DOJ Task Force handled the review and prioritization of cases, the failure to expeditiously review cases, and the failure to adequately notify the defense in affected cases.[2]The 2014 OIG report makes five recommendations to the DOJ, requiring some remedial action on cases from the 1996-2004 review.  One recommendation is to identify which defendants were never notified about the review and to locate and notify these defendants.  As a result, the DOJ has sought assistance from the defense bar through NACDL, in locating affected defendants and connecting defendants with defense counsel who can provide necessary legal representation on a pro bono basis.   

 

Since February, 2015 NACDL has been working with the DOJ to identify cases within the scope of the review, review cases that were initially excluded from the review because the original prosecutor made a determination that the evidence was not material to the conviction, and notify defendants and the defense bar about the review.  

 

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Contact

Vanessa Antoun 
Senior Resource Counsel
(202) 465-7663


 
 

[1] The OIG issued a second, “follow-up” report, in 1998, which – in part – examined whether steps had been taken by the FBI Lab to implement the recommendations from the 1997 report.   

[2] The 2014 OIG report notes the case breakdown:  7600 cases within the scope of the Task Force review (handled by 1 of 13 criticized FBI examiners);  2900 (of the 7600) cases resulted in a conviction;  338 cases (of the 2900) prosecutors deemed the evidence “material” to the conviction and were thus subjected to independent scientific review;  result was 312 ISRs generated – affecting 402 defendants.   

 

 

 

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