Fabrication of bitemark evidence by dentists not proven according to 7th Circuit dismissal of Stinson civil suit

“Fabricated opinion evidence, for which the expert might not have qualified immunity, must be both wrong and known to be wrong by the expert,” Sykes explained (an appellant judge recently wrote this in WI).

Its quite clear in Wisconsin that incorrect expert opinions must derive from “falsified or made-up” opinions intentionally created for use by the prosecution. Illinois thinks the same.

There exists no remedy for mistakes, exaggerations of certainty opinions unsupported by science,  or incorrect assumptions used by forensic experts to form conclusive opinions of a defendant’s criminality in the United States. A recent opine (also dismissing expert liability for AAFS dentists hired by the prosecution) in another civil case brought by DNA exoneree Bennie Starks from Illinois, concluded with the trial judge’s ad hoc statements assessing the prosecutorial use of bitemark dentists akin to “palm reading and astrology.”

Harm was heaped upon both men (both African Americans), but appellate case law accepts this as not a foul.

A legal opinion from my POV. 

There is  a gaping disconnect between forensic “inaccuracies” ( or worse ) affecting the outcomes of criminal cases and the defendant’s much judicially lauded “civil rights” to a fair trial  etc etc. Judge Sykes found “no constitutional” basis in Stinson’s  complaint of wrongful conviction. Loss of liberty (his was not a capital case demanding execution, but others have been put on death row) gets a pass. Even if the White House Office of Science an Technology Policy and the National Academy of Science have discredited the “bitemark matchers” in toto.

Thus, the Stinson v. Gauger, Nos. 13-3343, 13-3346 & 13-3347 (Aug. 25, 2015) civil suit against AAFS/ABFO dentists Tom Johnson (the WisBar author incorrectly calls him Lowell Johnson, which in itself is humorous to some experienced ABFO forensic dentists) and Raymond Rawson by an exonerated Robert Lee Stinson failed on its appeal to a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals 3 judge panel. Both dentists are super-icons of the AAFS, the NIJ (Johnson received a record-breaking $715,000 NIJ grant for bitemark research a few years back), and the elite of the ABFO. Rawson was at the epicenter of exoneree Ray Krone’s death row conviction in Arizona in the 1990’s.

The term “qualified immunity,” as applied to district attorneys, police and their hired experts in criminal cases, is their  cornerstone of liability protection according to the US Supreme Court and state courts. Exoneree from Texas Michael Morton (25 years in prison) may have obtained some satisfaction when the DA from his conviction finally experienced some comeuppance a couple years ago. In Morton’s case the DA misdeeds were deemed intentional.

Note: The Stinson conviction from more than 23 years ago, regardless of it becoming a DNA proven exoneration, still appears in certain state’s case law as proof of bitemark “matching” continuing acceptance in courts.

Does this sound like an episode from The Twilight Zone? I may be dating myself.

Full article from Wisbar.org




About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in AAFS, ABFO, Bite Marks, Civil rights, costs of wrongful convictions, criminal justice, CSI, death penalty and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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