Board Resolution ~ 02/15/1997(2)

Authorizing NACDL's FOIA Request to the DOJ OIG Regarding the FBI Laboratory

Resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Authorizing NACDL's FOIA request to the DOJ OIG Regarding the FBI Laboratory 

New Orleans, LA
February 15, 1997

WHEREAS, the FBI Laboratory each year submits results in thousands of criminal investigations to federal and state prosectuors in cases alleging criminal wrongdoing by American citizens and others; and

WHEREAS, the FBI Laboratory's results often play a critical role in deciding whether American citizens and others are prosecuted for, or convicted of crimes for which they are accused; and

WHEREAS, recent revelations of inappropriate practices and inaccurate and incomplete test results reported by the FBI Laboratory to state and federal prosectors have brought into serious question the accuracy and underlying reliability of that Laboratory's results; and

WHEREAS, a full understanding of the scope, extent and significance of the FBI Laboratory's problems is essential to the confidence of the American people in that agency to the administration of justice in our nation's courts and to the reliability of trial evidence in determining innocence or guilt of individual citizens; and

WHEREAS, under the Freedom of Information Act, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has formally requested disclosure of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation report on the FBI Laboratory in the interests of its members, their clients, the media and the American public; and

WHEREAS, the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 imposes severe time limits for the filing of petitions of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254 and collateral attack motions on judgment and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, the new trial rights of state and federal prisoners who may have been unfairly or wrongly convicted due to inaccurate FBI lab test results introduced in their original trials may be permanently foreclosed as untimely if the OIG report is not expeditiously released; and

WHEREAS, in the event the Department of Justice refuses to promptly disclose the OIG report in response to NACDL's FOIA request within 10 working days, as required by law;

NOW THEREFORE IT IS RESOLVED, that the Executive Committee of NACDL is authorized to proceed with all deliberate speed in commencing a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel public disclosure of the OIG's report on the FBI Laboratory;

AND FURTHER RESOLVED, that NACDL will prepare and make available to its members, and to other lawyers and interested persons, a motion for timely access to the OIG report in any and all criminal prosecutions in which evidence has been analyzed by the FBI Laboratory.

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