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Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis: A Retrospective

Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 47, p. 306, 2010

Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-21

11 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2011  

Paul C. Giannelli

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis, William Tobin, FBI, Scientific Evidence, National Academy of Sciences, Expert Testimony, Criminal Law

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Giannelli, Paul C., Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis: A Retrospective (September 1, 2011). Criminal Law Bulletin, Vol. 47, p. 306, 2010; Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1920984

Paul C. Giannelli (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-2098 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

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