Serial rapists and underachieving government crime lab; cops as “super-experts”

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“Did Failures at APD’s Crime Lab Lead to Sexual Assaults in Houston?” (Austin Chronicle)

A new Harvard Law Review article titled “The Judicial Presumption of Police Expertise” questions whether police should be treated as expert witnesses when giving testimony in criminal cases (The Crime Report).  The police frequently “fill-in-the blanks” in prosecutorial theories of guilt. As in slanting determination of time of death based on “experience,” suspect “demeanor” at death scenes, etc.

One excerpt states: “From trials to suppression hearings to professional activities outside the courtroom, judges experienced multiple sites of unique exposure to the rhetoric and evidence of the police’s expert claims. These encounters primed judges to embrace police expertise not only through their deliberative doctrinal content, but also their many structural biases toward police knowledge. This development poses important and troubling consequences for the criminal justice system, exacerbating critiques of police judgment in the Fourth Amendment context and raising novel concerns about the limits of judicial reasoning about police practices.”

NYPD has yet to outfit any of their officers with body cameras despite a 2013 federal court ruling that ordered the implementation of a body camera pilot program in at least 5 NYPD precincts: “Envisioned as a tool to bolster police accountability, body cameras have faced pockets of resistance, from both police reform advocates and some law enforcement agencies and state legislatures. Reform advocates have cautioned that cameras could provide the police with new methods of surveillance that might erode personal privacy, while some law enforcement agencies have balked at the cost of storing so much data, and some states have added restrictions on public access to the footage.” (NY Times)

Thanks to the New York Legal Aid Society!  @celiagivens is the best

About csidds

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