Anyone familiar with television will know this scene: an impossible case, a wacky but smart scientist, and an aggressive prosecutor does the impossible and brings a criminal to justice.
In the course of an hour, they bring their man down with a combination of grit and science! When football isn't on, it's great Thursday night entertainment.
Except, as it turns out, you can't really get fingerprints off a fractured bullet. You can only rarely get fingerprints off a gun at all. No one can "read" a fire, and while digital cameras have come a long way you can't get an image reflected off a cornea.
If you've read this far you might be thinking to yourself, "those shows are just for entertainment, no one actually thinks that you can reflect the killer's face off a raindrop!"
But as it turns out the government thinks it can and their own forensic science inquiry has told them that their science is suspect. Everything from fingerprint analysis to once hallowed DNA analysis has, as it turns out, not been peer reviewed. Instead, in many instances, the science behind these disciplines has been assumed. That means the scientists involved did exactly what you're not supposed to do when you want to prove something, they decided that the evidence existed and worked backward to show that it existed. Great for Thomas Aquinas, not so great for an innocent man on trial for a crime he did not commit.
Which brings me to the point of this post. After being confronted with the fact that much of the science the government relies on to get convictions is untested, unvetted, and lacking in scientific basis many government lawyers stated a willingness to right on using what they've been using. Indeed the nation's top prosecutor, Loretta Lynch, said in a Wall Street Journal Interview, “we appreciate their contribution to the field of scientific inquiry, the department will not be adopting the recommendations related to the admissibility of forensic science evidence.”
Frankly, that's not good enough. If you, or someone you love, has been arrested you should talk to a professional to know what your rights are and how best to handle the criminal case going forward. You need to bring someone in who will challenge the evidence as admissible because evidentiary mistakes are costly to the accused. Once into the record they can prejudice a jury and earn an unjust conviction for a prosecutor.
If you want to read the report in full you can download it at this link:
If you would like to read more about Loretta Lynch's statements as quoted above you can read them here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-advisory-council-releases-report-critical-of-forensics-used-in-criminal-trials-1474394743