FBI overstated hair match crisis: (17); (The Emperor's Clothes); Phil Locke of the Wrongful Convictions Blog asks if they will ever fix forensics in the USA; His post does not reflect cause for optimism. Especially when he points out that, "In the meantime, the traditional forensic science community has been motoring along as if the NAS (National Academy of Sciences) Report never happened. At the most recent American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting, there was an active session on forensic odontology (bite mark analysis); a discipline for which the NAS Report states there is absolutely no scientific basis."
POST" "Will they ever fix forensics?" by Phil Locke, published by the Wrongful Convictions Blog on April 24, 2015.
GIST: "We (I) haven’t posted here about forensics for some time, and the
pot is long overdue for a stir. This post was triggered by a recent
piece in the NY Times – Fix the Flaws in Forensic Science – see that NY Times story here.
The Times story was in turn triggered by the recent “announcement”
(admission) by the FBI that FBI agents had been giving scientifically
unsupportable testimony regarding microscopic hair comparison in
thousands of cases for decades......... Because of a belief and fear that much of forensics was flawed, the NAS Report (National Academy of Sciences), Forensic Science in the United States, A Path Forward,
was commissioned by Congress in Fall of 2005. The report was published
in 2009. The report issued a scathing condemnation of the current state
of forensic “science.” It was, of course met, with a firestorm of
resistance from the forensic and prosecutorial communities. Regardless,
the US Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and
Technology announced the joint creation of a National Commission of Forensic Science (NCFS) in 2013 – see previous WCB posts here, and here. The NCFS did not hold its first meeting until February, 2014. The
Commission released its first nine drafts of policy statements for
public comment in October, 2014. In January, 2015, it officially adopted
three of those statements. The adopted policies are highlighted in the
list below: While this has been going on, the sole federal judge on the commission, Jed Rakoff, resigned just last January
in protest over the Justice Department’s position on an issue that
would continue to favor prosecutors at the expense of full pretrial
evidence exchange. There has since been an accommodation reached, but I
suspect this is indicative of the Justice Department’s opposition to
truly changing anything. This also causes me to wonder greatly about the
objectivity of all the commission members. Keep in mind also, that the commission is only empowered to make
policy recommendations. It has no powers of oversight or enforcement,
and no way to administer the adoption of its recommendations. My reading
of the “tea leaves” here is that the advocates for the Justice
Department and the existing forensic community have successfully kept
the commission mired in politics and committees. So … there you have it.
Six years after the publication of the NAS Report, a federal commission
with no powers has adopted three policy recommendations. In the meantime, the traditional forensic science community has been
motoring along as if the NAS Report never happened. At the most recent
American Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting, there was an active
session on forensic odontology (bite mark analysis); a discipline for
which the NAS Report states there is absolutely no scientific basis.
Do you wonder why I ask, “Will they EVER fix forensics?”"
Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses
several thousand posts. The search box is located near the bottom of
the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this
powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and
myself get more out of the site. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.ca/2013/12/the-charles-smith-award-presented-to_28.html I look forward to hearing from readers at:
My interest in forensic pathology began with my Toronto Star investigative reporting into once famed since disgraced former doctor Charles Smith. I began this Blog after retiring from the Star in 2006 in order to follow the aftermath into the independent Goudge inquiry into many of Smith's cases. I have now begun to focus on cases involving flawed forensic science no matter where they occur (the recent Amanda Knox prosecution in Italy, for example) and am fascinated by the interest in the Blog from people in countries throughout the world. In another development, my interest in "junk science" "pseudo-experts" and the miscarriages of justice they all too often cause has drawn me deeply into the on-going U.S. death penalty debate where so many troubling cases involve issues relating to DNA and other developments in the world of forensic science. For all of this I rely on my experience as a reporter at the Toronto Star, my work as a lawyer in Ontario's criminal courts, and my abhorrence of injustice. Please send cases and developments which may be of interest to this Blog to email@example.com. Read on! Harold Levy.