FORENSICS | Should We Rejoice? U.S. Departments of Justice and Commerce Name Experts to First-ever National Commission on Forensic Science

Here’s a  list of the commissioners appointed to this NIST forensic review group. I find no pro active or judicial/scientific empowerment allowed to their future findings and recommendations. This impotence is much like what happened to the National Academies of Science 2009 Report on “Strengthening Forensic Science in the U.S.” Criminal Justice activists hailed it as a hallmark of truth. State trial and appellate judges, Federal judges and prosecuting District Attorneys generally  ignore it as a “non-governmental” (meaning unenforceable) and uncompelling review. These responses are unprecedented in the history of the NAS.  In the worst case of cynicism, this “new” could be merely window dressing by the DOJ Feds and the Department of Commerce related NIST. Similar post 2009 Congressional and Executive branch (Senator Patrick Leahy’s Forensic Commission bill and the White House) fact-finding soirees have evaporated because of push back by the  forensic/law enforcement industrial complex and typical DC Beltway short-term memory loss. The wrongfully convicted have no lobbyists in that town.

Here’s the rub from the DOJ horse’s mouth: “Members of the commission will work to improve the practice of forensic science by developing guidance concerning the intersections between forensic science and the criminal justice system. Sounds tooth-less to me (and I’m a dentist).

The following is an excerpt showing some bureaucratic posturing and listing of all the folks picked out of 300 candidates. There are some well known legal policy innovators and commentators in this group. None have the credentials (i.e., fighting actual litigation cases of forensic disasters in 311 DNA exonerations)  of newly appointed Commissioner Peter Neufeld.


A Deputy Attorney General praises his committee members.

“I appreciate the commitment each of the commissioners has made and look forward to working with them to strengthen the validity and reliability of the forensic sciences and enhance quality assurance and quality control,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole.  “Scientifically valid and accurate forensic analysis supports all aspects of our justice system.”
The commission includes federal, state and local forensic science service providers; research scientists and academics; law enforcement officials; prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges; and other stakeholders from across the country.  This breadth of experience and expertise reflects the many different entities that contribute to forensic science practice in the U.S. and will ensure these broad perspectives are represented on the commission and in its work.
“This new commission represents an extremely broad range of expertise and skills,” said Under Secretary Gallagher.  “It will help ensure that forensic science is supported by the strongest possible science-based evidence gathering, analysis and measurement.
“This latest and most impressive collaboration between the Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will help ensure that the forensic sciences are supported by the most rigorous standards available—a foundational requirement in a nation built on the credo of ‘justice for all,’” said John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The following commissioners were chosen from a pool of more than 300 candidates:
Suzanne Bell, Ph.D. , Associate Professor, West Virginia University; Frederick Bieber, Ph.D., Medical Geneticist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Associate Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School; Thomas Cech, Ph.D. , Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder; Cecelia Crouse, Ph.D. , Director, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory; Gregory Czarnopys , Deputy Assistant Director, Forensic Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; M. Bonner Denton, Ph.D. , Professor, University of Arizona; Vincent Di Maio, M.D., Consultant in Forensic Pathology; Troy Duster, Ph.D. , Chancellor’s Professor and Senior Fellow, Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, University of California, Berkeley; Jules Epstein , Associate Professor of Law, Widener University; Stephen Fienberg, Ph.D. , Maurice Falk University Professor of Statistics and Social Science, Carnegie Mellon University; Andrea Ferreira-Gonzalez, Ph.D. , Professor of Pathology and Director Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Virginia Commonwealth University;John Fudenberg , Assistant Coroner, Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner, Clark County, Nevada; S. James Gates, Jr., Ph.D. , University System Regents Professor and John S. Toll Professor of Physics, University of Maryland; Dean Gialamas , Crime Laboratory Director, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Scientific Services Bureau; Paul Giannelli , Distinguished University Professor and Albert J Weatherhead III and Richard W. Weatherhead Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University; Hon. Barbara Hervey , Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; Susan Howley , Public Policy Director, National Center for Victims of Crime; Ted Hunt , Chief Trial Attorney, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Kansas City, Missouri; Linda Jackson , Director, Virginia Department of Forensic Science; John Kacavas , United States Attorney, District of New Hampshire; Pamela King, Assistant State Public Defender, Minnesota State Public Defender Office; Marc LeBeau, Ph.D. , Senior Forensic Scientist, Scientific Analysis Section, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Julia Leighton, General Counsel, Public Defender Service, District of Columbia; Hon. Bridget Mary McCormack , Justice, Michigan Supreme Court; Peter Neufeld , Co-Director, Innocence Project, Benjamin Cardozo School of Law; Phil Pulaski , Chief of Detectives, New York City Police Department; Hon. Jed Rakoff , Senior United States District Judge, Southern District of New York; Matthew Redle , Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney, Sheridan, Wyoming;Michael “Jeff” Salyards, Ph.D. , Executive Director, Defense Forensic Science Center, Department of the Army; and Ryant Washington , Sheriff, Fluvanna County Sherriff’s Office, Fluvanna, Virginia.

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in criminal justice, junk forensic science, William Richards Exoneration Case, wrongful convictions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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