Individualization Claims in Forensic Science: Still Unwarranted
Jonathan J. Koehler
Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law
Michael J. Saks
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
June 1, 2010
Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 75, p. 1187, 2010
Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 11-18
In a 2008 paper published in the Vanderbilt Law Review entitled “The Individualization Fallacy in Forensic Science Evidence,” we argued that no scientific basis exists for the proposition that forensic scientists can “individualize” an unknown marking (such as a fingerprint, tire track, or handwriting sample) to a particular person or object to the exclusion of all others in the world. In this special issue of the Brooklyn Law Review, we clarify, refine, and extend some of the ideas presented in Fallacy. Some of the refinements are prompted by Professor David Kaye’s paper, also in this issue of the Review, in which he takes issue with some of the arguments we made in Fallacy. We conclude that forensic scientists should not be permitted to capitalize on the lack of supportive scientific data about either characteristic frequency or their own diagnostic reliability by going beyond what is known and what can be stated on good grounds.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: forensic science, individualization
JEL Classification: K10, K19, K40, K49
Date posted: February 8, 2011
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