I am rarely shocked about nefarious dealings or subterfuge in the ecosystem of forensic ‘science’ and the criminal justice arena. But I just read that a police department has a cadre of 3 “anonymous” dentists in Indianapolis, Indiana, who provide dental assistance to police authorities. That assistance, of itself is typical, as most larger jurisdictions and states have a practicing dentist available for dental identifications. NAMUS is a national group of mostly volunteer dentists who assist in missing and unknown person investigations and dental data collection for the federal government.
The shocking part is police use of certain dental findings in police interrogations of suspects from this same “anonymous” group (or any other dental consultant). Points of my objection are, bitemark “matches” or comparisons. Lets jump past the unreliability aspects of this subject and just call it junk. Regardless of this, dentists have not become mum about their 60 years of their unbridled popularity in the criminal court system. Current cases prove this to be fact.
And here is another rub. This potential of interrogation coercion has been occurring for decades. Most dentists’ early days in forensics contain mentoring and listening to the superstars of bitemarks rationalizing that any plea deal bitemark case is “golden.” This attitude is not any different than law enforcement or prosecutors. Just how many of these cases have occurred is subject to an ongoing research project of national exoneration organizations. Those mentoring forensic dentists (I emphasize: over 60 years in the US) aren’t helping in the data collection. Such is the antithesis (and split personality) of the competent an much larger dental identification side of this group. Strange.
Most lawyers and some public know cops don’t necessarily tell suspects all the truth all the time. This is even regularly read into most CSI network and police procedurals and crime novels. This flaw has evolved into one major aspect of the blockbuster “police reform” movement endorsing mandatory recording police of custodial conversations. The US Supreme Court has also given its sanction to this law enforcement tactic. The back story in the criminal justice system is that 95% of criminal cases are “closed” with plea deals.
The injustice implication of unrecorded interrogations is obvious. Ones which lead to plea deals aided by unknown and non-disclosed flawed forensics ( no recording and no trial transcript disables any future post conviction appeal litigation) is another forensic disaster.
Read about plea deals and wrongful convictions.
Innocence Project: An End to Plea Deals
How Prosecutors Force Plea Deals. Article from Phil Locke @wrongconvblog
Will they ever fix forensics? Another Article from Phil Locke.
SAME OLD FORENSICS STORY
42 days in jail after a rape victim ID from Facebook, innocent man released due to DNA, the prosecutor in this Florida case says, “it happens all the time.” Then the judge and prosecutor apologize. Combine that with the PC used to incarcerate (a photo off of Facebook) supports why eye wit ientification is at the top of the . factors leading to wrong convictions. Article.
TALKING POINTS: POLITICS
St. Louis Dispatch editorial about pending “eyewitness” reform bill. Created as a “protection against wrongful convictions.”
SUSPENDED DNA CRIME LAB NEWS
Embattled DC Crime Lab director resigns. Will not be paid for the remainder of his contract.