Convicting an Innocent Man Quote Runs Up Against Prosecution Experts’ Immunity Protections

Sir William Blackstone made his legal commentaries in 18th century England.

Image result for sir william blackstone

Serious old-school forensic problem exists with fingerprint experts. Their old-saw statement of “zero-error rate” is beginning to sound unrealistic to judges who have some forensic training. This case in Oregon is a good showcase regarding the creeping change within police forensics unit that deal with latent (“crime scene”) fingerprints. Here is the old school proofs used to convict a woman of burglary.

“‘In Portland, over 70 years of identifying prints, we have never [had] an erroneous or a mistake in an identification that has been out of our office,’” the Bureau’s criminalist testified in 2016 according to appeals court documents. “’ … The Portland Police Bureau has never misidentified a person.’”

The Oregon case.

That rings a bell with those of us who are battling old convictions that used bitemark analysts mistake-ridden means of “matching” human bruise to human teeth.

Wisconsin is the federal court venue where bitemark analysts are individually being sued for some of their actions in misidentifying a man who was released after 23 years in prison. The case is one among very few examples of mistaken forensic experts have been determined to have personal liability in a wrongful conviction.

The American Board of Forensic Odontology dentists being sued are named in……

The Wisconsin case. 

Their defense to violating Stinson’s constitutional rights rests on the fact that did not intentionally falsify the bitemark evidence that was in error. Here is what the judge dissenting Stinson’s civil rights claim stated:

“Again, she argued that while the dentists’ opinions may have been gross errors in forensic analysis, they did not constitute a violation of Stinson’s due process rights unless they knew at the time they were wrong.”

Stinson’s attorneys’ arguments attack the opinion regarding the “not knowing part.”

 

 

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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One Response to Convicting an Innocent Man Quote Runs Up Against Prosecution Experts’ Immunity Protections

  1. SCP says:

    If forensic experts were required to provide their own malpractice insurance, then maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to act haphazardly or unethically. And you also wouldn’t see so many analysts “just following orders” from supervisors or lab directors. Attach accountability to the wallet and things may change.

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