Swatting:  An Ill-Defined Crime with Potentially Deadly Consequences

I learned a new word on my drive home yesterday: swatting. Ari Shapiro, host of NPR’s All Things Considered, explained in this report that swatting occurs when a person falsely reports a crime in an effort to cause a large group of officers or a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team to converge on the scene. The prank is associated with video gamers who reportedly have used it as a form of revenge as well as entertainment.

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Hair Analysis Under a Microscope

Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran a story that begins as follows:

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

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