Forensics in Focus @csidds | Feb 26 |Good stuff + a bitemark dentist doubts his own reliability to the Judge who then does his own investigation.

Here’s more on the sketchy progress towards the normalization of forensics into a “science.” The Good with the Bad. The “unsure” bitemark dentist is at the end.

CRIME LABs

OHIO: A rocky road during murder trial for an ex-toxicology examiner for past transgressions concerning lab protocols.

DELAWARE: Medical Examiner has some theft problems in their drug lab that “needs to be straightened out.”

SOUTH AFRICA: Johannesberg police labs (N=3) need a serious makeover. “Staff are forced to work amid leaking sewage, fire hazards and overcrowding, while the backlog of tens of thousands of blood alcohol samples continues to grow.” The Joberg DA just issued this response

CALIFORNIA: Alameda county outsourcing DNA rape kits to commercial Virginia crime considered “a leading provider of forensic DNA services.” This is a joint project with county LEOs, DA and local criminal justice orgs. Good stats about the staggering number of untested rape kits leaving sex criminals at large throughout the US.

WEST VIRGINIA: This state has a huge FBI crime fighting unit for the federal jurisdiction but its local crime labs are swamped and the taxpayers and victims are complaining.

FORENSIC RESEARCH

INNOVATION?: Developer ( another “leading provider of forensic services”) talks about shifting DNA extraction and profiling to “the field” without needing crime lab facilities. THis is definitely a trending topic in DNA capture and processing. See item 2 in this release. Now THAT’S going to raise some questions about “chain of custody.” Especially if the cops have suspect(s) at the scene for contemporaneous collection or in custody during these “mobile” applications. Shades of the Orenthal James Simpson defense.

Radioisotope analysis as a means to date an locate origin of skeletal remains.  $$

INTIMIDATION OF MEDICAL EXPERTS

This law suit indicates that medical experts whose opinions  are unpopular and undermine the status quo within their professions have legal protections against harassment.  

BITEMARKS REDUX

FLORIDA:  Innocence Project “Plain Error” review of “too unreliable” forensic odontology.” This suggests the writer would accept “occasionally unreliable.” But, not to waver, this piece parallels (and restates) the landslide of bad cases and publicity that is dogging the “elite” dentists of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Their denials and obfuscation of their unscientifically derived methods ran rampant at the latest AAFS meeting.

GEORGIA: Bitemark expert unsure about his own level of certainty. Doubts himself at a hearing and the Judge then takes over and examines the evidence himself. Now that sounds familiar. This strange brew of a judicial hands on forensic eval, shoe size and a gap between two teeth lead to what? Total confusion, as far as I’m concerned. Defense dentist and AAFS/ABFO follower, Tom David, seems conflicted about his own reliability. This article summarizes his testimony:

“Thomas says he cannot absolutely exclude him, but probably can.

How’s that for scientific rigor?

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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