Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bulletin: The National Law Journal explains why, "July turned out to be a bad month for bite-mark evidence." (Gabriel A. Fuentes).

"July turned out to be a bad month for bite-mark evidence. First, a high-ranking Obama administration official told a government-sponsored conference on managing forensic science error that bite-mark evidence should be "eradicated from forensic science." Next, a Chicago federal judge issued perhaps the most stinging judicial rebuke yet of the unreliable and unsubstantiated notion that an "expert" can reliably associate a bite mark left in a crime victim's skin with a particular person. The latest criticisms came on the heels of revelations in April by the FBI that 26 of 28 examiners in an elite FBI microscopic hair-comparison unit had overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in 95 percent of trials in which they had offered evidence over two decades. It all served as a reminder of the need to rein in the runaway use of forensic "science" in our criminal courts. Although the widely acclaimed 2009 report of the National Academy of Sciences highlighted the starkly limited reliability of many forensic disciplines commonly used to convict criminal defendants, many judges have been oddly reluctant to acknowledge that the NAS report changed anything. But change may yet occur as the limits of certain forensic sciences receive wider acknowledgement.........If mainstream scientists and judges are beginning to take note of the courtroom limits of weak forensic disciplines such as bite-mark comparison, perhaps there is hope that more courts will take the NAS report seriously and bring the needed rigor to their tasks as gatekeepers of expert evidence, upon which lay juries rely so heavily." (Thanks to Mike Bowers. Publisher of "Forensics in Focus (CSIDDS)" for drawing our attention to this article. HL);!/article/1751566393