Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Failed Science; Josh D. Lee reviews "Failed Science: Why criminal law ignores science." Vhemical and Engineering News.

BOOK REVIEW:  Josh D. Lee reviews "Failed Science: Why law enforcement resists science," by David A. Harris, published in 2012  by  New York University Press, for the Chemical & Engineering Digest. (Review appeared on February  18, 2013.) Thanks to "The truth about forensic science blog" for drawing  our attention to this review,"

GIST: "In his book, “Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science,” David A. Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, discusses the three most common causes of wrongful convictions, makes recommendations to help right the ship immediately as well as long term, and takes on law enforcement and prosecution that refuse to implement any meaningful changes—even in the face of scientific proof that doing so would decrease the number of wrongful convictions. This “resistance to sound, science-based police investigative methods” is the theme of “Failed Evidence.” The book is an easy and informative read best suited for policymakers, scientists, advocates, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, defense attorneys, and anyone with a general interest in the American criminal justice system. Truth be told, anyone who might find themselves sitting in the chair of a juror should read Harris’ book before sitting in judgment of a fellow human......... As a starting point for the discussion, Harris looks at what science really is and questions whether forensic science even qualifies as a science at all. At the root of science lies the scientific method. Following its principles allows us to infer certain knowledge from the unknown. It gives us confidence that our conclusions are correct and built upon a strong foundation and not merely based upon beliefs or hunches. Without the adherence to scientific principles the study or effort is lacking rigor and is not a “scientific” venture. Scientific fields such as DNA analysis have been thoroughly tested. By contrast, Harris observes, many forensic science disciplines were creations of the criminal justice or law enforcement system and are not born of the scientific method. As a result, “many of the common forensic science disciplines have never been exposed to stringent scientific inquiry to gauge their accuracy, limitations, and foundations.” They don’t, in fact, qualify as science and are given too much credibility by the law and the courts.........Harris paints a picture suggesting that together we can make a difference. We will never be perfect, but we can do things much better. “Ignoring science, when doing so increases the risk of wrongful convictions, simply does not square with justice or fairness,” he writes. Positive change must happen and as Harris concludes, “Justice demands no less.”"

The entire review can be found at:


I 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:

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.