Saturday, August 25, 2012

Innocence and chemistry: Innocence Project calls on chemists to support forensics reform. Nature.

STORY: "Forensic investigation needs more science: Innocence Project calls on chemists to support forensics reform," by Daniel Cressey, published in "Nature" on August 23, 2012. (Our thanks to the Wrongful Convictions Blog for pointing out this important story);

GIST: "Neufeld (C0-director of the Innocence Project) says that misuse of forensic science is a major factor in nearly half the cases investigated by the Innocence Project. He is calling on chemists to lobby Congress individually and through the ACS (American Chemical Society) in support of the bill. But he also wants more scientists to engage with forensic science research. “What we want to do is make forensic science more about science and less about law enforcement,” he says, so it becomes an impartial assessor of evidence rather than a branch of law enforcement. This call was echoed by Frederick Whitehurst, a chemist and former investigator for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. “What we seem to know in the world of science is that there are some real problems in the world of forensic science, and we’d rather work on something cleaner,” he told an ACS session on chemistry and the law. “We don’t seem to want to work with dirty crime sciences.” Whitehurst says that crime-laboratory technicians are often under pressure to produce evidence that agrees with police or prosecutor theories. Scientists can “run into a sledgehammer” when their evidence doesn't confirm prosecutors’ hypotheses, says Whitehurst, potentially putting their careers at risk. Greg Hampikian, a geneticist at Boise State University in Idaho and director of the Idaho Innocence Project, told the meeting that he regularly has nightmares about the ease with which innocent people can be convicted because of flaws in forensics systems."

The entire story can be found at:


I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.