A lack of support by prosecutors lies behind the failure of forensic science reform legislation to be approved so far by Congress, says federal appeals court Judge Harry Edwards of Washington, D.C. A bill introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would establish a federal office of forensic science that would propose national standards for the field. The bill was drafted after a critical report issued by a National Academy of Sciences panel co-chaired by Edwards.
Edwards spoke at the showing of a new documentary, Mississippi Innocence, at the Newseum in Washington. The film tells the story of Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, who were wrongly convicted in the rape and murder of two three-year-old girls in Noxubee County, Ms., in the early 1990s. The Innocence Project sought DNA tests that helped free both men and also helped lead authorities to the real killer. The movie focuses on two controversial forensic specialists, medical examiner Steven Hayne and forensic dentist Michael West, whose testimony was instrumental in the Brooks and Brewer convictions.