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.
Flawed forensic evidence is a key reason for many wrongful convictions in criminal cases. Setting rigorous standards for judges and prosecutors to follow in pretrial discovery would reduce its use, argues a study published in the Northwestern University Law Review.
About 70 percent of the roughly 350 inmates exonerated by DNA evidence were convicted based in part, or in whole, on eyewitness testimony. A Philadelphia conference explores why witnesses get it wrong so often—and how to fix it.
The decision to shelve the 40-member commission and abandon DOJ’s Forensic Science Discipline Reviews is a “troubling” step backwards in efforts to apply scientific knowledge to trial evidence, warns a member of one of the commission’s subcommittees.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has canned a a commission of scientists and legal scholars charged with scrutinizing questionable forensic practices, including hair, handwriting and bite-mark analysis. The onus is now on defense attorneys to challenge such evidence on a case-by-case basis.
The U.S. Attorney General is turning back the clock on the use of questionable forensic practices, such as bite-mark testimony and comparisons of hair, handwriting, tire treads and footprints. New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer, who has written extensively about these practices, says they resemble magic more than science.
A panel of scientists called into question several techniques that have been used as evidence in criminal trials for decades, including bite marks and tread comparisons from shoes and tires. The panel said such evidence falls “far short” of scientific standards and urged judges to be cautious in allowing its use at trials.