Based on a notorius bitemark case: CA legislation plans to reject use of junk and outdated forensics in court @csidds

Radley Balko at the Washington Post’s “The Watch” announces California Senate Bill (SB1048) intent to direct the courts to consider scientific progress and reject junk opinions of debunked forensic methods and prosecutorial bias favoring “finality of verdicts.” He speaks to the proven unreliability (and overbearing forensic experts) of certain forensic methods. The AAFS/ABFO might want to take a look.

This bill is directly related to the 1997 murder conviction (aided by a bitemark “identification”) of William Richards in “tough on crime” San Bernardino county. Years later, Richards’ final appeal to the CA Supreme Court was based on exculpatory DNA and the DA’s bitemark expert reversing his original trial opine that a “bitemark” and Richards’ teeth were seen in only “2 out of a 100” adult humans. There was also a defense bitemark expert in 1997 who is the past ABFO president. He also rejected his 1997 testimony saying an injury to the victim was a human bitemark. Now it is “probably” a dog bite. California’s Supreme Court thought otherwise. 


An excellent PPoint presentation of Richards‘ case (with crime scene images) by Alissa Bjerkhoel.pdf of the California Innocence Project who represents Bill Richards.

Los Angeles Times article on the CA Supreme Court’s myopic view on what “innocence’ proofs” were lacking in the Richards appeal.

Here is my Richards OP-ED that was published last year in the California Digest (legal newspaper).Bowers_Op-Ed-William Richards

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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1 Response to Based on a notorius bitemark case: CA legislation plans to reject use of junk and outdated forensics in court @csidds

  1. csidds says:

    Reblogged this on FORENSICS in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends and commented:

    The story continues on the California Senate bill passage which would mandate the judiciary to competently assess the scientific weight of forensic evidence used to convict. If this passes into law, it would become a blue print for other state’s recognizing that proof of guilt or innocence via forensic opinions should be addressed using the scientific method, rather than legalisms derived from Old English Common Law traditions.

    Earlier last week…

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