Forensic science is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “evidence that can be used in court based on science. It can be blood tests, ballistics, and DNA.” The accuracy of these tests has often been questioned. A report recently released by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology appears to support these concerns.
What did the report find? Ultimately, the report found that many of these tests do not meet scientific standards.
The Wall Street Journal discussed this report, noting it focused on the accuracy of “bite-mark, hair, footwear, firearm and tool-mark analysis.” Three key findings from the report include:
- The validity of certain forensic science methods. Arguably the most important finding of the report is that the tests may not be valid. The results could be faulty or given more weight in court than can truly be supported – ultimately leading to an overstating of the strength of this evidence during trial.
- A lack of proper scientific scrutiny. In addition to ensuring that these tests are valid, the results also are generally required to be independently scrutinized. Results can be called into question without a review by science-based agencies.
- The continued need for judicial review. It is also important that judges presiding over cases that use this form of evidence have the power to determine the admissibility of these pieces of evidence. As noted in the WSJ piece, these justices serve as “gatekeepers” to ensure only the most valid evidence reaches court, a serious responsibility.
The findings of this report could result in appeals of criminal convictions throughout the country.
What can people currently facing criminal charges learn from this report? This report provides an example of the evolving nature of criminal law. Those facing these charges are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The laws governing these matters are always changing. Your lawyer will advocate for your rights, working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.