Forensics: Improvements to the #AAFS Ethics bylaws may prevent future abuse of its power

Something new has occurred since previous posts on my 2013, 2014 and 2015 experiences with the bitemark believers’ attempts to run me off the rails and attack my credibility by hijacking the American Academy of Forensic Sciences‘ Code of Ethics.

The AAFS has promulgated a new set of rules that may protect others (and maybe the AAFS itself) from being maimed by unfounded accusations driven by self-styled psuedo scientific experts trying to shut out legitimate discourse within the AAFS’ scope of influence.

See what Texas says about them. (From the Wall Street Journal, Feb 2016).

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Article II. CODE OF ETHICS AND CONDUCT SECTION 1 – THE CODE OF ETHICS AND CONDUCT: As a means to promote the highest quality of professional and personal conduct of its members and affiliates, the following constitutes the Code of Ethics and Conduct which is endorsed by all members and affiliates of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences:

a. Every member and affiliate of the Academy shall refrain from exercising professional or personal conduct adverse to the best interests and objectives of the Academy. The objectives stated in the Preamble to these bylaws shall be to promote professionalism, integrity, and competency in the membership’s actions and associated activities; to promote education for and research in the forensic sciences; to encourage the study, improve the practice, elevate the standards and advance the cause of the forensic sciences; to promote interdisciplinary communications; and to plan, organize and administer meetings, reports and other projects for the stimulation and advancement of these and related purposes.

b. No member or affiliate of the Academy shall materially misrepresent his or her education, training, experience, area of expertise, or membership status within the Academy.

c. No member or affiliate of the Academy shall materially misrepresent data or scientific principles upon which his or her conclusion or professional opinion is based. d. No member or affiliate of the Academy shall issue public statements that appear to represent the position of the Academy without first obtaining specific authority from the Board of Directors.

SECTION 2 – MEMBER AND AFFILIATE LIABILITY: Any member or affiliate of the Academy who has violated any of the provisions of the Code of Ethics and Conduct (Article II, Section 1) within the preceding five (5) years may be liable to formal or informal discipline, to include reprimand, censure, suspension, or expulsion by action of the Board of Directors.

SECTION 3 – SANCTIONS: If the Board of Directors finds that a member or affiliate has committed a violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct, the Board may sanction the member or affiliate based on the nature of the violation as follows:

a. If the Board finds that a member or affiliate has committed a minor violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct, the member or affiliate may be censured with a confidential “Letter of Reprimand” or a non-confidential “Letter of Censure.”

b. If the Board finds that a member or affiliate has committed a serious violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct, the Board may suspend the AAFS membership of the member or affiliate for a specific period of time.

c. If the Board finds that a member or affiliate has committed an egregious violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct, the Board may expel the member or affiliate from the membership of AAFS.

d. In determining whether a violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct is “minor,” “serious,” or “egregious” and appropriate level of sanction to be imposed, the Board of Directors shall consider the following non-exclusive factors:

1. Whether the violation was an isolated incident or a pattern of misconduct;

2. Whether the violation was knowing and intentional;

3. Whether the violation included prevarication, fabrication, deception, or falsification;

4. Whether accused has acknowledged the ethical violation, taken remedial measures, and/or expressed remorse for the conduct;

5. Whether the violation resulted in actual harm or the potential for serious harm to the justice system and/or an individual;

6. Whether the accused has previously been sanctioned for an ethical violation.

AAFS Code of Ethics Bylaws. 

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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