A new initiative to research issues at the intersection of science and law, including problems that have led to wrongful convictions, has been launched by the American Judicature Society. AJS is starting an Institute of Forensic Science and Public Policy, based in Greensboro, N.C. The society also has created a commission on the subject, headed by former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Dr. David Korn vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges and former dean of Stanford Medical School.
DNA analysis will be a major focus of the new project. “The challenge today is to make certain that important evidence is tested promptly by well-qualified analysts,” said AJS president Allan Sobel. “Unfortunately, today we have neither adequate facilities nor a sufficient number of analysis to effectively maximize the use of DNA evidence.” Among other areas of focus for the institute: transferring knowledge from the scientific community to forensics experts and judges; ways to improve juror comprehension of scientific tesimony; improvement of crime labs; human memory and eyenewitness identification; and avoiding “tunnel vision” in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.