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.
Court records say a 73 year man was a “person of interest” and was tracked down by police for his DNA in an earlier search of DNA records pursued in 2017. He was not the perp arrested this week. A closer look at how far they went investigating the wrong man might be hard to get.
“Officials did not need a court order to access GEDmatch’s large database of genetic blueprints, Holes [one of the cold case detectives] said. Major commercial DNA companies say they do not give law enforcement access to their genetic data without a court order.”
How hard would that have been to get? Maybe, harder than you think, if the cops fudged by getting the real perp’s DNA from private property. Apparently someone was in a hurry. Detective Holes retired one day before the arrest of DeAngelo occured.
There is a nice quote from Law Prof Erin Murphy about all this.
“It seems crazy to say a police officer investigating a very serious crime can’t do something your cousin can do on a Tuesday,” Murphy said. “If an ordinary person can do this, why can’t a cop? On the other hand, if an ordinary person had done this, we might think they shouldn’t.”
Kern County is a leader of California counties having inmates on death row. A man would have been executed under the new California statutes allowing “swifter justice.” Of course, the CA DA Association spent millions, along with sanctimonious “victim rights prosecutors,” saying they have “fixed” the appellate process which was “broken.” Assholes.
One of the most sanctimonious : Michael Ramos in San Bernardino.
Police obtaining your DNA without a warrant is one issue in this case. That’s allowed if you go out in public or don’t incinerate your trash. Once in the dumpster, there is no “expectation” of privacy. The other issue is law enforcement’s easy access to commercial ancestry DNA registries to round up relevant DNA profiles from either yourself or your relatives. “All OK for the Greater Good,” I suppose.
51 minute CNN video from two days ago on the case outcomes.
Start this video at 42:00. The first part is PR for the investigators in the “Justice Team” assembled to look for this guy.
Local police chief thinks using a glove box for driving with Grandpa is highly unusual.
Nothing better explains how weak this self-proclaiming Colorado Springs-based forensic org (The American Academy of Forensic Sciences) has become than this continuing look at the baseless claims of its bitemark membership. Read The Intercept interview where the authors of “The Cadaver King and the Country Dentists” tell a horrid tale of lawyers and judges ignorant of scientific training and then convicting the innocent. Its not just happening in Mississippi and Louisiana. Full story.
Background: The bitemarkers got a five year renewal of their “certification” license from the AAFS two months ago. The Bitemarkers and the AAFS.
Statistical Analysis of Forensic Odontologist Involvement In
Cases of Wrongful Bite Mark Convictions and Indictments
The misapplication of forensic sciences is a leading contributing factor to
wrongful conviction,29 and of the unvalidated techniques that have contributed to
wrongful convictions and indictments later overturned through DNA testing, bite mark
comparison poses an acute threat to the reliability and fairness of the criminal justice
system. Of the 29 known wrongful convictions and indictments secured through the use
of bite mark comparison evidence, the forensic dentists who performed the comparisons
are known in all but two cases.
Among those 27 cases with available data, a total of 21
dentists offered bite mark comparison opinions or testimony. Nearly 86%, or 18, of
those dentists were Diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Odontology at the
time of their relevant casework.
The raw data is presented below in Chart 1;
ABFO Diplomates are highlighted in yellow. A brief statistical summary is offered in Chart 2.
The scales of justice are wobbling back and forth on this one.
Copyright and Intellectual Property interests seem to be winning and allowing District Attorneys to cloak their experts’ computer programs.
One judge in San Diego, CA is running against that tide.
More on STRmix and it’s protectors invoking “special rights” in arguing against transparency of science and copyrighted material’s use in criminal courts.