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The 2009 NAS Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review


Paul C. Giannelli


Case Western Reserve University School of Law

April 12, 2012

48 Crim. L. Bulletin 378 (2012)
Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-11

Abstract:     
In February 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its report on forensic science: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009). The popular press immediately trumpeted the report’s release, with headlines such as (1) “Report Urges Overhaul of Crime Lab System,” (2) “Real-life Police Forensics Don’t Resemble ‘CSI’: Reliability is ‘Low or Non-existent,’ Report Finds” and (3) “Science Found Wanting in Nation’s Crime Labs.”

Within three months of its publication, Justice Scalia cited the report in a Supreme Court decision, writing: “Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation. . . Serious deficiencies have been found in the forensic evidence used in criminal trials.” Both the Senate and the House held hearings, and a bill was introduced in Congress. In addition, the President appointed a committee on forensic science.

Several law schools held conferences on the report, and a number legal journals published symposia. Law review articles variously described the report as a “blockbuster,” “a watershed,” “a scathing critique,” “a milestone,” and “pioneering.” This essay briefly discusses some of these articles as well as aspects of the congressional hearings.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 17

Keywords: forensic science, National Academy of Sciences Report, scientific evidence

JEL Classification: K14

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Date posted: April 12, 2012 ; Last revised: April 25, 2014

Suggested Citation

Giannelli, Paul C., The 2009 NAS Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review (April 12, 2012). 48 Crim. L. Bulletin 378 (2012); Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-11. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2039024

Contact Information

Paul C. Giannelli (Contact Author)
Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )
11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-2098 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)
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