Despite two hefty federal reports casting doubt on the validity of traditional forensic evidence such as bitemark and hair strand analysis, such questionable science is still used in the courtroom to determine guilt or innocence, according to an Albany Law Review study.
A Texas state commission said the blood-spatter analysis used to convict Joe Bryan, a former high school principal of murdering his wife in 1985,was “not accurate or scientifically supported” and the expert who testified was “entirely wrong.”
The technique was not pioneered by the FBI or elite forensic experts but by a loose network of citizen scientists. The novel turn to crime-fighting has raised issues: Could the process finger the wrong person? Who will ensure police use genetic data responsibly?
Joe Bryan, a former Texas high school principal, is serving a 99-year prison term for the murder of his wife, which he probably didn’t commit. The case illustrates the issues surrounding dubious experts who provide bloodstain-pattern analysis.
Under a haphazard system, cities make their own policies about what to do with thousands of rape kits that come back from DNA analysis. Should every victim be notified, or might that cause unnecessary harm?
An 18-month NJ Advance Media investigation found serious failures at nearly every level of New Jersey’s patchwork system of medical examiner offices. The state’s past two top medical examiners resigned in protest.
The DNA sketch technology is a relatively new tool that can generate leads in cold cases or narrow a suspect pool. For some ethicists and lawyers, it’s an untested practice that if used incorrectly could lead to racial profiling or ensnaring innocent people as suspects.