Skip Palenik Interviewed on FBI Mishandling of Hair Evidence


Skip Palenik FBI


The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism recently published a nationally syndicated article by Dee J. Hall entitled “Innocent People Convicted From Flawed Hair Evidence.” The article covers the FBI’s much-publicized mishandling of hair evidence in the 1980s and 1990s that has prompted the re-examination of over 3,000 criminal cases from the period. Currently, just over half have been reviewed, with problems noted in over 90 percent of these.

The article features excerpts of an interview with Microtrace founder Skip Palenik on the FBI’s treatment of hair evidence, as well as the uses and limitations of hair comparison and analysis.

From the article:

Skip Palenik, Founder and Senior Research Microscopist

Skip Palenik, founder of Microtrace LLC of Elgin, Illinois, testified at a recent evidentiary hearing that Oakes’ statements in the Beranek case violated professional standards in place even back then. Palenik has more than 40 years’ experience in the field of finding, analyzing and comparing materials, including those found in minute amounts.

To read the full article, click here.

Skip Palenik has been involved with forensic hair analyses since the early 1970’s and participated in the first (and many subsequent) FBI sponsored hair working groups. Since that time, other Microtrace scientists have developed expertise in hair microscopy as well. In our ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, Microtrace scientists have identified, examined, and compared hairs for a wide variety of clients from forensic, civil, and industrial arenas. Typical projects have included documenting hairs prior to destructive DNA analyses, screening hairs for suitability in DNA and mDNA analyses, microscopical hair comparisons, and human and animal hair identification. Additionally, Microtrace routinely conducts reviews of hair analyses for innocence projects and public defenders throughout North America. Our thorough approach supplies reliable and scientifically-supportable results that can withstand the rigors of courtroom questioning. For more information about our hair analysis capabilities, click here.

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