Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bulletin: Robert Lee Stinson; Levon Brooks: The Innocence Project is seeking partners to litigate test cases involving unreliable forensic sciences and eyewitness misidentification. North Carolina Forensics.

STORY: "Strategic litigation at the Innocence Project: Fighting to chnge the law around the leading causes of wrongful conviction,"  by M. Chris Fabricant and Karen Newirth, published by north Carolina Forensics (North Carolina Office of Indigent Defence Services)  on April 17, 2014. (Chris Fabricant is Director of Strategic Litigation for the Innocence Project).

SUB-HEADING: The Innocence Project is seeking partners to litigate test cases involving unreliable forensic sciences and eyewitness misidentification.  Attorneys with cases of potential interest should contact the IP directly at the email address provided below. 

GIST: "Stinson and Brooks are just two of the countless innocent defendants whose convictions were based at least in part on unvalidated or misapplied forensic science.  Considering how infrequently bite mark evidence is introduced in criminal trials, this particular discipline is over-represented in wrongful conviction cases.  However many other unreliable forensic disciplines have been implicated in cases of wrongful conviction, including hair microscopy, fiber analysis, tire tread analysis, arson, “shaken baby syndrome”, dog scent lineups, and the list goes on.  Indeed, the misapplication of forensic science is the second leading contributor to wrongful conviction, playing a role in over 50% of the 306 wrongful convictions proved by post-conviction DNA testing.  The only more common contributing cause of wrongful convictions is eyewitness misidentification, which has played a role in nearly 75% of known wrongful convictions. Despite the lessons learned from DNA exonerations and the publication of the National Academy of Sciences’ report on the current state of forensic science, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, (2009), unreliable “scientific” evidence continues to be widely accepted by criminal courts across the country.........To fight against the admission of evidence that we know leads to wrongful convictions, including unreliable eyewitness identification testimony, the Innocence Project created the Strategic Litigation Unit in 2012.  For many years we have engaged litigation and legislative advocacy aimed at reforming the way courts evaluate the reliability of eyewitness identification evidence. ........The wrenching injustices endured by men like Robert Lee Stinson and Levon Brooks are both correctable – and preventable.  Scientific integrity can and must be brought to the American criminal justice system.  A free society cannot continue to tolerate the routine admission of sworn expert testimony we know – as a matter of science – to be false.  Nor can we turn away from the prisoners whose convictions rest on what we now know was demonstrably false “scientific” evidence admitted at trial as evidence of guilt. The Innocence Project’s work on these issues is not done alone.  We collaborate with the defense bar and attorneys pursuing post-conviction innocence claims to identify and litigate against the admissibility of unreliable forensic and eyewitness identification evidence.  The Strategic Litigation Unit partners with defense counsel in all stages of litigation, including pre-trial Frye/Daubert hearings; we lend amicus support in appellate and post-conviction litigation, and consult with attorneys litigating eyewitness identification and forensic science cases nationwide.  Consider this essay an invitation to work with us toward these reasonable and indeed moral goals.  Attorneys with cases implicating this work should contact the Innocence Project directly."

The entire story can be found at:


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