A wobbly attack on the Innocence Project being a “franchise” and having “financial interests” in exons

This is just another ill conceived railing at the NY and other Innocence Projects (there are about 34 affiliates). Its in the form of an anonymous letter to the the NY Joint Commission on Public Ethics in regards to “ethics violations” of IP co-directors Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld who sit on the very public and important NY Forensic Science Commission.

I am always thrilled to read narratives from “forensic scientists under fire” (which usually end up a self-immolation simulation) from the forensic reform movement and advancements in the real sciences useful to criminal investigations. This one just got self-published containing  a host of vacuously expressed misdeeds and misdeamenors rising to the level of  sheer rant. Targeting those  at the Innocence Project of course. Those damn bastards and wanks. They hang out with rich people too (from the complaint).

Searching for substance may take some time but a scintilla exists about DNA statistics and hair microscopy. I think. The stat issues are boiling around the country among DNAers doing forensics and the “hairy” part has to do with the fallout over the FBI lab’s public denunciation of itself regarding 20 years of misused matching of hair shafts to criminal defendants. Accusations of “mis-representing our true science” seems to sour the atmosphere contained in this letter’s effort. Its bottom line is “let us alone and go away you well funded nay-sayers (aka: lawyers) of our not so scientific but long respected jobs” (at least by prosecutors).

As you peruse the contained statements (in The Letter), a few things strike me as unusual. One, he saw a podcast of the Forensic Commission. He wasn’t there? No big deal. But he allows himself to throw around typical scurrilous conspiracy theories (not the first time seen in print and secret meetings), adds some hearsay and a resignation letter from an ex-IP member lawyer from Texas. Note that this part has no relevancy to the NY dust up.

The writer fears retaliation for speaking about his objections of Scheck and Neufeld. Hence, no signature. He must not trust the NY public governmental system’s normal protections of its citizens and doubts the Forensic Commission is a safe haven for such discussion of his accusations. The Ethics Commission does allow a “tipster” to file a complaint.

Im sure this tipster is a senior “scientist” ramrod back at the ole crime lab.

The List of Crimes against the Public

1. “Berating” by Scheck of the Forensic Commission at a meeting about “future” uses of “probabilistic genotyping.” Sheck is against its use for reasons undisclosed by the tipster. THE major sinister omission from this ethics complaint letter was its non-disclosure that the FBI crime lab’s recent news release that its “statistics” of allele frequency in DNA profiling was “a bit” off. That’s “probabilistic genotyping.”

2. Scheck quoting his opposition opinion using an incorrect research citation.

3. Both lawyers (Scheck and Neufeld) profiting as lawyers in their participation on the Forensic Commission. That occurs by their using empirical research, case studies and reforming some police “sciences.” (In my opinion). Bad stuff eh? Later the writer adds the clarify that they personally make profit from exonerating so many people. (The IP number of DNA exons is around 350). Truth is, the IPs are non profit. Scheck and Neufeld are paid faculty members at Cardozo School of Law.

4. Their political influence in Criminal Justice advocacy with the US Department of Justice regarding the fall from grace of the hair analysts threatening other forensic bastions.

5. A side gripe he throws in is the Forensic Commission functioning using a “team approach.” This means others than the complainer’s pedigree (he must be a “hair guy”) get to participate in decision making. The 2009 NAS report on “Strengthening Forensic Science in the US” got the same blather from the bitemark crowd and other “threatened” forensic groups.

6. Some “incriminating” hearsay that Neufeld says he is drumming up business for the IP by “looking at the other forensic disciplines.” In fact, this is a blatant untruth. The IP has assisted litigation against bitemark matching opinions for over 12 years. Ive been doing it for 20 years.

The letter

So, the complaintant expects Commission ethics are violated by its members who make a living teaching and legitimately litigating defendants who still have some Constitutional rights? What about those who make a living dedicated to investigating evidence which can put them in prison? Such a blatant double standard needs a cure. How about a National Commission of real scientists who aren’t financially connected to this forensic industry dedicated to figuring this out. Oh, sorry, that was already done by the National Academy of Sciences in 2009. Later to suffer much passive resistance rancor from within the forensic science industry.

BTW, there is someone very happy with this “shout out about the Innocence Project’s conflict of financial interests.” This bloke thinks the conspiracy will (from his latest rag) be revealed. He has his own conspiracy theories to pile on as well.







About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in AAFS, criminal justice reform and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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