Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis: A Retrospective
Paul C. Giannelli
Case Western Reserve University School of Law
September 1, 2011
Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 47, p. 306, 2010
Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-21
For over thirty years, FBI experts testified about comparative bullet lead analysis (CBLA), a technique that was first used in the investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination. CBLA compares trace chemicals found in bullets at crime scenes with ammunition found in the possession of a suspect. This technique was used by the FBI when firearms (“ballistics”) identification could not be employed – for example, if the weapon was not recovered or the bullet was too mutilated to compare striations. Although the FBI eventually ceased using CBLA, the Bureau’s conduct in first employing the technique and then defending it after it was challenged provides an invaluable insight into how forensic science sometimes works.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis, William Tobin, FBI, Scientific Evidence, National Academy of Sciences, Expert Testimony, Criminal Law
JEL Classification: K14
Date posted: September 3, 2011
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