Participating in post-conviction appeals of defendants convicted from the use of bitemark pattern “matching” brought me to a crossroads with my memberships in both the bitemark group (ABFO) and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS).
The cross-road on the right led to a train wreck, where the ABFO continued to use their debunkable beliefs in microscopic chips and twists of crooked teeth leaving finger-print -like impressions on injured human skin. Their train had run into a ditch due to DNA testing applying its science to overwhelm the ABFO “matching” dogma recorded in criminal cases of false convictions. The ABFO “diplomates” cases are illustrated next.
I hit the brakes at the intersection and quit the ABFO but as yet remain an AAFS member, although its recent renewal of the bitemarkers “certification status” has put a big dent in any thoughts that the AAFS is anything more than a forensic social boys club in the arena of imposing restraints on the bitemark group.
I have taken the road to the left.
Now my job is to educate individual state and federal judges, one-on-one, through the use of affidavits combined with criminal appeals from prison inmates who have spent decades in prison. BTW, all these prisoners are indigent.
Each affidavit I have written, either for an inmate facing life in prison or execution on death row, conflicts strongly with the Prosecutors’ responses about bitemarks as a “science.” Categorically and, as a rather curious example of “group think,” they love it. Their collegial relationship with the bitemarkers has produced a thread common in their Responses to these appellate cases.
Here is a quick look at Prosecutors (i.e. the State) boilerplate beliefs in bitemark identification from an active titled New Jersey v. Fortin :
- The State Response cites legal precedence in US courts as a substitute for advances in scientific standards that post date Fortin (2004). At the time of Fortin, their assertions were merely opinion of private practicing dentists.
- The State Response is silent regarding any scientific support that contradicts the 2009 NAS Report and PCAST analyses of the ABFO. The relevant scientists and legal observers outside the ABFO reject the ABFO methods out-of-hand. The lack of any courts excluding bitemark matching has resulted in changes in Criminal Justices Codes in California.
- The amount of relevant review by scientific groups outweighs the previous cases of bitemark matching being acceptable in court.
- In English Common Law, there once was precedence for condemning witches and soothsayers. Advances in science and social awareness overcame the pre-existing reliance on past outmoded practices by the justice system.
- The ABFO “gold standard” of Guidelines is merely a compendium of past practices of their work. It is not based on empirical studies. The ABFO attempts at such have worked against them.
- The ABFO ( 100 members) demands immunity from oversight by anyone.
- The State’s response misdirects the court from the failure of the ABFO to create any science for the acts they purport to be valid and reliable.
- The research and testing data the ABFO and the State rejects as insufficient for use by the defense is a red herring to mislead the court. The State and the ABFO offer no research to support their practices either at the time of Fortin, or in current practice.