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Microscopic Hair Comparison | Oct. 12, 2021

Below is information about microscopic hair comparison from the North Carolina Department of Justice:

Microscopic hair comparison is valid science. Former FBI Director Comey’s letter raised concerns after some federal scientists testified beyond the limits of science and put more weight on the evidence than is appropriate. No similar concerns have been raised about North Carolina State Crime Laboratory (NCSCL) scientists.

The North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ) and NCSCL are both committed to using science to promote justice. The idea that anyone is behind bars for a crime he or she did not commit is devastating. We welcome the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence’s (NCCAI) work to ensure that this type of problematic testimony did not impact any convictions in our state.

The NCSCL provided a list of cases to NCCAI in which microscopic hair comparison analysis was conducted from 1987-1989. That does not mean that a conviction was obtained for each of those cases. NCCAI, per the MOU between the organizations, will now determine which of those cases resulted in convictions and which of those relied on microscopic hair comparison to obtain the conviction. NCCAI will then conduct an investigation to determine whether or not the scientist properly testified.

Extensive searching through paper case files is required to locate these decades-old cases. NCSCL is committed to the completion of this project and to providing additional years of cases to NCCAI on a rolling basis as they are available.