Bitemark “Scientists” History of Wrongful Convictions

Statistical Analysis of Forensic Odontologist Involvement In
Cases of Wrongful Bite Mark Convictions and Indictments

The misapplication of forensic sciences is a leading contributing factor to
wrongful conviction,29 and of the unvalidated techniques that have contributed to
wrongful convictions and indictments later overturned through DNA testing, bite mark
comparison poses an acute threat to the reliability and fairness of the criminal justice
system. Of the 29 known wrongful convictions and indictments secured through the use
of bite mark comparison evidence, the forensic dentists who performed the comparisons
are known in all but two cases.
Among those 27 cases with available data, a total of 21
dentists offered bite mark comparison opinions or testimony. Nearly 86%, or 18, of
those dentists were Diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Odontology at the
time of their relevant casework.

The raw data is presented below in Chart 1;

ABFO Diplomates are highlighted in yellow. A brief statistical summary is offered in Chart 2.

Full Report

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DNA Mixture Wrangling Over Private Company Secrecy Versus a Defendant’s Right for Discovery of #Forensic Methods

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The scales of justice are wobbling back and forth on this one.

Copyright and Intellectual Property interests seem to be winning and allowing District Attorneys to cloak their experts’ computer programs.

One judge in San Diego, CA is running against that tide. 

More on STRmix and it’s protectors invoking “special rights” in arguing against transparency of science and copyrighted material’s use in criminal courts.

 

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Sagas of Junk Forensic Science Whistleblowers – Please Read the Entire Piece –

Image result for the cadaver king and the country dentist

Forensic experts and practitioners clearly endanger themselves when bringing to light contrarian evidence to criminal courts that reveal forensic mistakes and failures to long-court-accepted testimony.

This recent article provides a memorial and acclamation to a physician who fought to his last breath to introduce significant doubts regarding the origins and blind acceptance of Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnoses used to convict the innocent. He paid a price.

The players in these scenarios invariably involve:

  • Prosecutors invested in obtaining convictions.
  • Judges pretending to understand the Rules of Evidence yet allow these rules to circumvent advances in scientific understanding because of cultural resistance to change legal mistakes.
  • Adversarial groups of self-promoting professional colleagues protecting their status and bankrolls.
  •  Weak scientific oversight regarding experts proclaiming their “science” using the legal cloak of “reasonable medical certainty.”
  • A few journalists who use the media to dig into these well orchestrated road-blocks to addressing the relationships of bad “science” and erroneous convictions. Here is one of them.

Radley Balko at The Watch 

Image credits: Catch more of investigations into corruption and misdeeds within the legal and forensic arenas in “The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist.” The co-authors are R. Balko and T. Carringtion and John Grisham. The Economist has some said some great things about it. 

 

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Forensics Failure by ICE : Sexual Assaults in Custody Not Investigated Nor Prosecuted

Illustration: Nicole Rifkin for The Intercept

A woman held at an immigration detention center in Washington state said she was raped by a medical worker and a private facility contractor as she sought help in the center’s medical unit. Another woman said officers cuffed and maced her following an argument with a fellow detainee at an immigration detention center in Florida. Then, as she lay on the ground, an officer sat on her “like a person would sit on a horse,” his “erect penis on her butt.” Officers then filmed her as she showered to wash off the mace, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

ELSEWHERE IN FLORIDA, a man said a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent threatened him with deportation after he refused to engage in oral sex — and that the officer told him he would be deported to Haiti, even though the man is from the Bahamas. In Texas, a Border Patrol agent driving detainees between detention centers pulled over and let a woman get out after she performed oral sex on him, according to another complaint.

Many other women and men held in immigration detention across the country reported routine searches that turned into groping and fondling. Many said they were propositioned, subjected to suggestive stares and sexual innuendo, and threatened with retaliation if they spoke up. Many said officers shrugged when they reported abuse by fellow detainees.

These allegations are just a sample of hundreds of complaints of sexual and physical abuse in immigration detention obtained by The Intercept in response to a public records request with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, which is tasked with independently reviewing the department’s various agencies, including ICE and Border Patrol.

The reports obtained by The Intercept include 1,224 complaints filed between 2010 and September 2017, primarily about incidents that took place in ICE custody. But in earlier responses, officials with the DHS Office of Inspector General indicated that the office received some 33,000 complaints between 2010 and 2016 alleging a wide range of abuses in immigration detention. The OIG provided records documenting investigations for just 2 percent of the complaints it shared with The Intercept.

https://theintercept.com/2018/04/11/immigration-detention-sexual-abuse-ice-dhs/

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Forensics: John Hopkins Strongly Weighs In On Bitemarks and Other “Police Forensics” Omitting Scientific Proofs

Scientists decry a lack of actual  science in forensic methods

Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Arturo

Casadevall among co-authors of ‘PNAS’ editorial……..

“WE WANTED TO ALERT PEOPLE THAT THIS IS A CONTINUING AND A MAJOR ISSUE: THAT MANY OF THE FORENSIC TECHNIQUES USED TODAY TO PUT PEOPLE IN JAIL HAVE NO SCIENTIFIC BACKING.”

Arturo Casadevall
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor
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Talking Science to Prosecutors and Cops by “Independent” Scientists Continues Unabated

Experts call for more science in forensic science

Sunita Sah

A group of scientists, including Sunita Sah, a physician and assistant professor of management and organizations, is calling for a national effort to bolster the scientific rigor in forensic science. They say many forensic science methods have never been scientifically validated, which is jeopardizing the integrity of the judicial system.

The issue is particularly important given the April 2017 decision by the Department of Justice (DOJ), under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to shut down the National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS). The commission advised the federal government on how to enhance the practice and improve the reliability of forensic science.

Sah and five other scientists, who served on the NFCS, wrote an editorial, “A Call for More Science in Forensic Science,” which will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The piece appeals to the broader scientific community to advocate for improvements in forensic science.

“The stakes don’t get much higher,” said Sah, who researches cognitive bias and decision-making at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. “We are talking about decisions that affect the lives of many people, both victims and the accused. For the integrity of the criminal justice system, this is something that we need to take seriously.”

The NCFS was created on the recommendation of the National Research Council. In 2009, the council produced a report that evaluated the state of forensic science and found many techniques, including analysis of bite marks, fingerprints, tread impressions and bloodstains, lacking in scientific value.

Yet many of these methods are still accepted as evidence because courts have accepted them in the past. “Many of the studies that purportedly support forensic methods do not meet the criteria of mainstream science,” Sah said. “There have been plenty of critiques regarding bite mark analysis, it has been scientifically discredited and yet it’s still introduced in the courts because of historical precedent.”

Moreover, almost all publicly funded laboratories are associated with law enforcement – a conflict of interest that leads to concerns about objectivity and bias, Sah and her authors said.

In response to the National Research Council’s report, the DOJ created the NCFS in 2013 to address these issues, administered by the DOJ and National Institutes of Standards and Technology. During the four years the NCFS was in operation, it brought together independent academic scientists – from psychology, medicine, biology, chemistry and physics. It recommended all forensic techniques be independently validated before being used in criminal investigations. And it found the phrase “reasonable scientific certainty” (often used in court testimony) basically meaningless and recommended it be removed from the judicial process.

The DOJ has now opened its own forensic sciences office and named a prosecutor to lead it – a scenario that is exactly the opposite of what the National Research Council recommended.

Sah and her colleagues call the situation “highly problematic.” Putting a prosecutor in charge of the organization perpetuates a conflict of interest and reinforces the prosecutorial perspective, which already dominates the field, they said. And a prosecutor may not want to “embrace scientific advances that could risk undermining past convictions and current prosecutions,” the authors write.

The National Academy of Sciences, the authors say, can and must advocate for independent forensic science research and financial support, and for empirical testing in the field.

“If we don’t include independent scientists in the discussion, then it is a disservice to forensic science and to the integrity of the criminal justice system,” Sah concluded.


STORY CONTACTS

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Bad Forensics: Police Controlling Forensic Pathology Outcomes

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You won’t see this on CSI which only portrays forensic pathologists as working smoothly with law enforcement. This story from San Joaquin Valley (Modesto, CA) is not the only place where Sheriff Coroners run over their “employee” forensic pathologists. District Attorneys have been know to do the same thing.

https://durangoherald.com/articles/217649-a-broken-system-forces-forensic-pathologist-to-resign

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A Classic Forensic Failure: Bitemarkers Issue An “Editorial” Explaining Their Rebirth as “Science-Based”

 

Nothing explains the mind-set of the AAFS affiliated ABFO bitemark group better than this 11 page Apologia that attempts to rehab their continued use in US Criminal Courts. It has a host of mis-truths, avoidance methods, and non-science orientation. Some bullet points on these revelations. The title is incredible: Epidermis and Enamel
Insights Into Gnawing Criticisms of Human Bitemark Evidence

  • It is likely this micro-treatise was used by the ABFO to renew it’s “board” certification by the AAFS spin-off, the FSAB. Some of the ABFO contributors are ex-AAFS Presidents.
  • Years of court approval continues to be their substitute for empirical science proofs of what they do.
  • A major theme: The Innocence Project is the devil.

The following is from active AAFS and ABFO member Dr. Cynthia Brzozowski and is quite illuminating regarding some errors, inconsistencies, omissions, and bunk seen in “Epidermis and Enamel.”

  • Quote from Epidermis and Enamel:                                                                                     “Understanding the causes and attempting to clarify where, how, and why the wrongful convictions occurred is necessary to be able to take measures to reduce the likelihood of such failures from happening again.”
  • Response 

The ABFO “as a group” has never addressed the wrongful convictions and the flaws of the analysts opinions in each case. They have only recognized Dr West’s cases ( see “The Cadaver King and The Country Dentist”).

Their list of wrongful bitemark-aided convicts is incorrect.   

The 19 wrongful convictions cited in their editorial involved over a dozen mainstream members are mis-numbered. Other exonerations were ignored.  

  • Quote from Epidermis and Enamel:
    “Means for improving reliability of bitemark analysis methods and formulating opinions are being assessed.17,18 When methods or techniques that increase reliability are found and validated, they are incorporated as appropriate. The American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) has taken the lead role in this. The ABFO leaders are committed to ongoing discussion to promote appro- priate evolution of the field. Included in this transition is the de velopment of bitemark proficiency examinations for individual odontologists after board certification, producing new and more robust bitemark guidelines, requiring ongoing recertification of odontologists, and recommending independent verification of conclusions by a qualified colleague
  • Response:
    The 2 citations are from 2011 and 2013 and they did not support means of reliability in bitemark methods. It is obvious that they cannot cite more recent studies. The first citation utilized a software matching dentitions used to imprint a mark on a foam doll (the ABFO criticized the anti-bitemark Bush studies which utilized cadaver skin which would be more akin to real life. They had a 16.6% error rate in matches of dentition to the bitemarks in the foam doll). The 2nd study by Mark Page states in the conclusions that it is disturbing the wide range of expert opinions of the same bm image ( similar to their failed 2015 construct validity results).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The ABFO has not taken the lead in incorporating methods or techniques that increase reliability and are found and validated.If they did they would have incorporated Dr Ian Pretty‘s Severity Scale back in 2009. The ABFO has done no such thing. This is a complete fabrication.

    It took the ABFO 7 years after the 2009 NAS Report to remove “the biter” term or what is known as individualization from their Guidelines.                                                                                                            

  • Quote from Epidermis and Enamel:
“The authors consider that of the 4 TFSC recommendations regarding bitemark evidence, the first 2 have already been ad- dressed by both the current and proposed changes to ABFO Standards and Guidelines, and the fourth has been accomplished by the TFSC’s Bite Mark Case Review Panel described above. The third, which deals with proficiency testing, is more complicated, but it is also under development.” 

Backstory read: In a Landmark Decision Texas Forensic Commission Issues Moratorium on Bitemark Evidence. 

  • Response:
 If this is true then why was the bitemark proficiency exam committee “sunsetted?”  The ABFO / bitemark committee [comment: a highly conflicted ABFO subgroup]  stated in February [2018] they will not be conducting such studies. One cannot have a proficiency exam if they do not conduct successful studies to determine confidence levels for calling a pattern injury a bitemark using the “new” criteria developed.

The Bitemarkers Mantra 3-26-2018

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The nature of hair and lack of robust research leads to doubts about cocaine testing company

Image result for hair shaft

Its the old story of a commercial drug testing company getting a head start in police forensics without discriminant variable testing to support its claims of a subjects’ drug use. The FBI uses this system to this day. In general, police drug testing is getting alot of criticisms these days. Of course the victims of false “positives” get the shaft. (that’s a pun, son).

https://www.wired.com/story/the-hairy-problem-with-drug-testing/

Then there is this about cocaine testing showing positive for 1 out of 10 people in a sample study in the UK.

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AAAS takes on police “forensic” fingerprint guidelines being an unscientific excuse for accuracy testing

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All my forensic casework has seen attorneys asking experts about their  “training and experience” relationship to rendered opinions. The AAAS (The American Association for the Advancement of Science” (The World’s Largest)  calls out this permissive aspect of qualifying an expert’s “science”  to be …………

“There is no scientific basis for estimating the number of individuals who might have a particular pattern of features; therefore, there is no scientific basis on which an examiner might form an expectation of whether an arrangement comes from the same source,” said Holt. “The proposed language fails to acknowledge the uncertainty that exists regarding the rarity of particular fingerprint patterns. Any expectations that an examiner asserts necessarily rest on speculation, rather than scientific evidence.”

The USDOJ “new” forensic testimony guides includes this out-dated excuse for real-life accuracy testing in the area of latent fingerprint comparisons. This is an excellent example of scientists shaking their heads regarding how behind the times the US Criminal Justice system thresholds are for scientific “facts” cloaked as “forensics.”

What is impressive: is the AAAS consistent oversight in the areas of forensics. They make the AAFS look like a bunch of itinerant practitioners.

https://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-asks-justice-department-modify-fingerprint-reporting-guidelines

Previous Forensic and Law blog on this subject.

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