Independent Crime Laboratories: The Problem of Motivational and Cognitive Bias
Paul C. Giannelli
Case Western Reserve University School of Law
March 11, 2010
Utah Law Review, Forthcoming
Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-8
One of the most controversial recommendations in the National Academy of Sciences report on forensic science — Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: The Path Forward — concerns the removal of crime laboratories from the administrative control of law enforcement agencies. For decades scholars have commented on the “inbred bias of crime laboratories affiliated with law enforcement agencies.” Some commentators have proposed independent laboratories as the remedy for this problem, and in 2002, the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment proposed the establishment of an independent state crime laboratory. This essay documents the problems that triggered the NAS Report’s recommendation. It also examines the counter arguments as well as alternative approaches, including additional measures that should protect forensic analyses from improper influence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States, A Path Forward, Forensic Science, Administration, Bias
JEL Classification: K14, K40
Date posted: March 11, 2010
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