Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rejecting Voodoo Science in the Courtroom

That's the title of today's Wall Street Journal commentary here by Judge Kozinski, who was a senior adviser to the PCAST report, along with the subtitle "The U.S. has relied on flawed forensic-evidence techniques for decades, falsely convicting many."
The piece begins:
Image result for csi: flawedThe White House will release a report Tuesday that will fundamentally change the way many criminal trials are conducted. The new study from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) examines the scientific validity of forensic-evidence techniques—DNA, fingerprint, bitemark, firearm, footwear and hair analysis. It concludes that virtually all of these methods are flawed, some irredeemably so.
Other key points include:

  • "Only the most basic form of DNA analysis is scientifically reliable"
  • "Bitemark analysis is about as reliable as astrology."

The piece concludes:
Among the more than 2.2 million inmates in U.S. prisons and jails, countless may have been convicted using unreliable or fabricated forensic science. The U.S. has an abiding and unfulfilled moral obligation to free citizens who were imprisoned by such questionable means. If your son or daughter, sibling or cousin, best friend or spouse, was the victim of voodoo science, you would expect no less.