Forensic science under the microscope--is reform on the way?
Radley Balko of the Washington Post wrote about the early stages of forensic science reform and the inherent problems with forensic evidence.
The problem with making judges the gatekeepers of scientific evidence is so ingrained in U.S. case law that it’s almost impossible to envision it changing. The best we can hope for is that judges start turning to the scientific community for guidance when determining what is and isn’t credible evidence, and that the scientific community take a more active role in assisting judges in such matters. So far, we’ve seen mixed results at best. With bite mark evidence, for example, the scientific community has pretty resoundingly stated that it’s a specialty supported by no scientific research whatsoever. Yet to date, every court in the country that has heard a challenge to the scientific validity of bite mark evidence has ruled against those challenges.
The other problem — cognitive bias — is the product of having crime labs report to police agencies, prosecutors, or other law-enforcement institutions. Cognitive bias can be minimized with some creative reforms like rivalrous redundancy, but so far, no jurisdiction in the country has attempted such reforms.
An analysis of crime and punishment from the perspective of a former prosecutor and current criminal justice practitioner.
The views expressed on this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or postions of any county, state or federal agency.