Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Faulty forensics: An excellent expanation of contemporary faulty forensics by Jessica Brand, Legal Director of the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard..."In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpack some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines — like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine — so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers quarterly to keep them current."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  This excellent study of "faulty forensics"  is authored by Jessica Brand, Legal Director of The Fair Punishment Project at Harvard. I became aware of the Fair Punishment Project when writing on the wrongful prosecution of Rodricus Crawford by the State of Alabama. (A report published by the Project informed me that Caddo Parish, where Rodricus had the misfortune of facing prosecution,  was responsible for a disproportionate number of death sentences.)  Kudos to Jessica Brand for this perceptive,contemporary study of flawed forensics.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.


PASSAGE  OF THE DAY: "Meanwhile, at least one judge has recognized the danger of forensic expert testimony. In a 2016 concurrence, Judge Catherine Easterly of the D.C. Court of Appeals lambasted expert testimony about toolmark matching: “As matters currently stand, a certainty statement regarding toolmark pattern matching has the same probative value as the vision of a psychic: it reflects nothing more than the individual’s foundationless faith in what he believes to be true. This is not evidence on which we can in good conscience rely, particularly in criminal cases … [T]he District of Columbia courts must bar the admission of these certainty statements, whether or not the government has a policy that prohibits their elicitation. We cannot be complicit in their use.”

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.