US Exonerations: State by state with interactive data: Are there Forensic Science “Bad Apples?”

The NY Innocence Project has a virtual tour of exoneration data that quickly establishes the fact that wrongful convictions are NOT just a series of “bad apples” in an otherwise reliable (depending on your interpretation of “justice”) system. The bitemark proponent recently relied upon by a NY judge was reported to have said that bite mark analysis is valid when used in a closed population of suspects and that problems of the past can be blamed on individual dentists, not the science itself. By definition, a closed population (i.e “only known to the police) of suspects is determined by police investigators, not by any independent analytical means available to any forensic dentist. In fact, these dentists interpret bruises and lacerations on skin and they have no means of determining when the bruises occurred.

A direct quote from this dentist:

“The issue is not that bite mark analysis is invalid, but that bite mark examiners are not properly vetted,” he said.

Approximately 10% of certified members of his organization have contributed to either wrongful convictions or incarcerations. Considering this fact, his “vetting” process needs some improvement. Maybe he’s the only one that is reliable. But, I digress. The point is:

Forensic scientists and forensic examiners have contributed to 52% of the 312 exonerations litigated by the IP and its IP Network.

A valid counterpoint to similar protestations of forensic experts preaching their own reliability are the statements of the Honorable Harry T. Edwards. He was the co-chair of the 2009 NAS Report which found the subliminal culture of some forensic methods, often acclaimed as “cutting edge” over the decades, is pock-marked with less than scientific proofs. This interview with PBS, Judge Edwards lays what he discovered when the NAS research arm, the National Research Council, delved into the disconnects between what forensic experts say, and what they can prove when they say it.

A 75 slide Powerpoint presentation clearly outlines what Judge Edwards talks about in his PBS presentation. The findings of the NAS are presented along with the generally half-baked or non-responsive excuses and criticisms provided to the NAS by some of the forensic science experts protecting their status quo.

Much like the bitemark believers who still spread their dogma to the courts.

The slide show was created by the NACDL which is partnering with the IP, the US Department of Justice and the FBI to untangle the web of convictions helped by erring microscopic hair analysts.

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in Bad Forensic Science, criminal justice, CSI, Forensic Science, wrongful convictions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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