California Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law SB 1058 bill. The law permits habeas corpus petitioners (i.e. after a conviction) the ability to contest expert testimony that was presented against them at trial. In other words, experts who either repudiate their past testimony or used forensic “science” that is later deemed faulty by legitimate research are subject to later proceedings reversing a conviction. Personal liabilities of those experts are NOT affected by this amendment to the California Penal Code.
The implications of this advance in criminal justice sidesteps prosecutors’ and judges’ habit of using old case law as an excuse for ignoring habeas corpus appeals expressing new forensic research and attitudes.
Foundation for this legislation
This bill is a direct response to criminal proceedings involving Williams Richards’ 1997 murder conviction based on bite mark opinions of two ABFO dentists. Both later repudiated their trial testimony in 2008. There are previous postings on Richards on this blog which reveal events leading up to this new law here, here, and here,
The new 2014 law amending Penal Code 1473 is here.