GIST: "The 2020 campaign will likely present voters with the sharpest contrast on criminal-justice and civil-liberties policy in recent memory. Most of the announced candidates for the Democratic nomination are pro-immigration and gun regulation and anti-death penalty and mass incarceration — all stances that put them at odds with President Trump. Many also have said they believe there is racial bias in the criminal-justice system and have expressed sympathy for police critics such as Black Lives Matter, again in sharp contrast to Trump. So here’s a list of the questions I would pose to the Democratic field as a whole. (I’ll posit individualized questions based on the candidates’ records at a later date, when the field narrows down a bit.) Feel free to leave your own questions in the comments. All items on the list are  (as usual with Balko) thoughtful,  worthy of consideration and deserving to be read. Here are several of particular interest to the readers of this Blog:

"4. One of  (former Attorney General) Sessions’s first acts as attorney general was to allow the charter for the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) to expire. This was a panel set up by the Obama administration to investigate the use of forensics in the courtroom and to make recommendations to ensure that expert witnesses are giving testimony based on sound science. Would you consider commissioning a similar panel or reinstating the old one?
6. One of the more destructive crime bills of the past 50 years is the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, or AEDPA. The bill is incredibly complex, but one key provision has made it much more difficult for inmates to ask federal courts to review decisions by state courts for constitutional violations. The bill was passed in the mid-1990s, before the onslaught of DNA exonerations revealed some of the serious flaws in our justice system. Reform advocates say the law makes it extremely difficult for people with innocence claims to get their cases heard in federal court. Would you support a review and modification of AEDPA?
7. Both Texas and California have passed what’s been called a “junk science writ.” This is a law that allows people convicted with expert testimony that has since been called into question by the scientific community a way to petition for a new trial, even if they have exhausted their appeals. Would you support a similar law for people convicted in federal court?
8. Because of AEDPA, people convicted in state court because of bad science have a very difficult time getting federal courts to review their cases. They must show that the trial judge abused his discretion in allowing the expert testimony — an extremely high bar. Even then, they face strict deadlines and restrictions that generally prevent them from getting relief. Would you support a similar “junk science writ” that would make an exception to AEDPA that would allow people convicted with dubious expert testimony in state court to petition the federal courts to review their cases?
9. Even when the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report and the NCFS issued recommendations critical of forensic science, President Barack Obama’s own attorney general Loretta E. Lynch rejected them out of hand. The Trump administration has since said the Justice Department will evaluate its use of forensics internally, and appointed a former prosecutor (and a defender of forensics) to oversee its use of expert testimony. The FBI has a dubious history in this area. Will you promise to appoint an attorney general who will open up the Justice Department’s use of forensics to review and scrutiny by outside scientists?"

The entire column  can be read at: