Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bulletin: Reax to massive U.S. hair and fiber cases probe; Prof. David Harris: Author: "Failed evidence. Why law enforcement resists science."

STORY: "DOJ/FBI examination of "thousands" of hair and fiber cases: Posted on July 11, by Professor David Harris on the Blog he has set up in connection with his soon to be released book, "Failed Evidence: Why law enforcement resists science."

GIST: "DNA evidence has now been in wide use in criminal cases for more than twenty years, and many of the nearly 300 convictions reversed in those years have come in cases in which bogus hair and fiber evidence, or other kinds of faulty forensics, convicted the defendants. The weakness of this type of evidence was one of the central points of the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States.” Nevertheless, the reaction of law enforcement in D.C. was not to adopt better procedures. According to National Public Radio, even though some law enforcement agencies around the country have made changes for the better based on science, “legislation in the City Council to reform those practices has been opposed by prosecutors and police.” .........It’s an all-too-familiar pattern: science and experience show that evidence and methods we have used is not science at all, and that glaring weaknesses must be fixed. Instead of taking action to improve what it does, law enforcement resists what science can tell us about how to improve, often at a low cost. As a result, innocent people suffer needless injustice, and victims do not get the justice they deserve."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: From the author's web-site: "Failed Evidence: Why law enforcement resists science" (NYU Press) is a direct challenge to police and prosecution leadership that has failed to come to grips with the insights that science has supplied for routine types of traditional police work. We’ve all heard about the DNA-based exonerations of innocent people: almost 300 over the last two decades. Failed Evidence starts with this topic, but pushes further. There is now plenty of science about the basic things that go wrong in eyewitness identifications, in suspect interrogations, and in forensic science. The science concerning these issues is rigorous, well documented, and replicated; moreover, it tells law enforcement not only what "not" to do in order to avoid miscarriages of justice (e.g., don’t do simultaneous lineups) but how to do the same tasks with much lower risk of mistakes (e.g., use sequential lineups). Yet, with the exception of DNA work, law enforcement has not embraced science. Most often, it has actively resisted science. The question at the center of "failed evidence" is why. If we can understand why, we will begin to understand what can be done to overcome this resistance, and how to have lasting change in the justice system. The book contains recommendations for creating this kind of change, as well as examples of situations from states in which breakthroughs have happened."

The entire post 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.