An influential California commission says that forensic science errors are a major contributor to wrongful convictions. The Los Angeles Times says it called for better training, more monitoring and stronger standards in the real world of “CSI.” The report cited the Innocence Project at New York’s Cardozo Law School, which identified forensic science testing errors in 63 percent of a set of nationwide DNA exoneration cases analyzed. The California commission also raised a red flag over the ability of the criminal justice system to expose mistakes in scientific evidence.
It was the fifth report from the Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, which has sounded warnings about false confessions, DNA backlogs in crime labs, the use of police informants, and mistaken eyewitness identifications. The panel called for the creation of a body to set standards for scientific analysis and evidence. “This is long overdue,” said Gerald Uelmen, commission chair and professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law. “We’re in a world where forensic science is playing a greater role in all criminal cases. It puts a lot of pressure on the system – not defense lawyers, but prosecutors and the criminalists themselves,” he said. The commission recommended that local prosecutors look into allegations of irregularities in expert testimony and that a council set state standards for forensic experts.