Friday, February 2, 2018

The Nation; Jimmy Genrich. Colorado; Venerated publication releases "massive 12,000-word special investigation into how faulty forensics are still weaponized by prosecutors despite two separately-commissioned federal review panels’ conclusive findings that these methods are bogus."..."While forensics may look like magic on CSI, much of it is unscientific garbage—garbage that has put thousands of potentially innocent people in prison."

COVER nation20180226.jpg 
RELEASE: "Forensic science put Jimmy Genrich in prison for 24 years. What if it wasn't science: A special investigation reveals a disastrous flaw affecting thousands of criminal convictions?" by science journalists Meehan Crist and Tim Requarth, published by The Nation on February 1, 2018."

GIST: Accomplished science journalists Meehan Crist and Tim Requarth investigate the hotly contested future of forensics and bring fresh scrutiny to the wildly unscientific field. Weaving the history of forensic ‘science’ through the dramatic retelling of Jimmy Genrich's arrest, prosecution, and ongoing Innocence Project-backed appeal, Crist and Requarth lay out a damning case against a rigged system. Their findings could reverse convictions, upend current cases, and forever change the field of criminal justice. 

Crist and Requarth report how an Obama-era commission cast doubt on much of modern forensics, and how prosecutors all the way up to the attorney general (both Loretta Lynch and current AG Jeff Sessions) have worked to shelve the studies to protect one of their favorite and most flawed tools. Their investigation found that flawed forensic science is a contributing factor in up to 50% of all wrongful convictions; forensic examiners routinely make scientifically indefensible claims of certainty in court; and while forensic evidence is very convincing to juries, many techniques have never been subjected to rigorous scientific testing.

“Today, Genrich is 55 years old and has been in prison for nearly 25 years for crimes he says he didn’t commit,” write Crist and Requarth. “His latest appeal has been taken up by the Innocence Project, in the hopes of not only freeing Genrich, but getting the courts to recognize recent scientific challenges to forensic pattern-matching techniques that affect hundreds of thousands of people at all levels of the criminal-justice system. In our investigation, we comprehensively reviewed the literature on handheld toolmarks published in forensic trade journals, dug through past legal rulings, pored over nearly 7,000 pages of trial transcripts, and conducted dozens of interviews with prosecutors, defense attorneys, forensic practitioners, judges, academics, and scientists, from Grand Junction to the Department of Justice. What we found was a startling lack of scientific support for forensic pattern-matching techniques such as toolmark analysis; a legal system that has failed to separate nonsense from science even in capital cases; and a consensus among prosecutors all the way up to the attorney general’s office that scientifically dubious forensic techniques should be not only protected, but expanded. With Donald Trump in the White House and Jeff Sessions at the helm of the DOJ, the nominal momentum for forensic-science reform spurred by the two major reports is slowing. Genrich’s case reveals a system that makes it nearly impossible to throw unproven forensic science out of courts and may be keeping thousands of innocent people behind bars.”
ABOUT: Meehan Crist (@meehancrist) is writer-in-residence in biological sciences at Columbia University. Previously she was editor-at-large at Nautilus and reviews editor at the Believer. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, the London Review of Books, Tin House, Nautilus, Scientific American, and Science. She is the host of Convergence, a new live show and podcast about the future. Tim Requarth  is a freelance journalist based in New York City. His writing has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Newsweek, Slate, Foreign Policy, and Scientific American. He received his PhD in neuroscience from Columbia University, where he also taught biology, chemistry, and science writing. For nine years he directed NeuWrite, an international network of workshops for scientists and writers. Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of American political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent voice in American journalism and a platform for investigative reporting and spirited debate on issues of import to the progressive community.


The entire feature can be read at the link below:
Forensic Science Put Jimmy Genrich in Prison for 24 Years. What if It Wasn’t Science?


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. 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."