Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2150694
 


 



Remapping the Path Forward: Toward a Systemic View of Forensic Science Reform and Oversight


Jennifer E. Laurin


University of Texas School of Law

September 22, 2012

Texas Law Review, 2013
U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 246

Abstract:     
The 2009 report of the National Academy of Sciences on the state of forensic science in the American criminal justice system has fundamentally altered the landscape for scientific evidence in the criminal process, and is now setting the terms for the future of forensic science reform and practice. But the accomplishments of the Report must not obscure the vast terrain that remains untouched by the path of reform that it charts. This Article aims to illuminate a critical and currently neglected feature of that territory, namely, the manner in which police and prosecutors, as upstream users of forensic science, select priorities, initiate investigations, collect and submit evidence, choose investigative techniques, and charge and plead cases in ways that have critical and systematic, though poorly understood, influences on the accuracy of forensic analysis and the integrity of its application in criminal cases. By broadening our understanding of how forensic science is created and used in criminal cases -- by adopting a systemic perspective -- the Article points to a raft of yet unaddressed issues concerning the meaning of scientific integrity and reliability in the context of investigative decisions that are by in large committed to the discretion of decidedly unscientific actors. Critically, the Article demonstrates that systemic dynamics affecting upstream use of forensic science might well undermine the reliability-enhancing goals of the reforms advocated by the National Academy Report. As the NAS Report begins to set the agenda for active conversations around legislative and executive action to reform forensic science, it is critical to consider these questions. Moreover, the Article suggests that the embrace of science as a unique evidentiary contributor within the criminal justice system problematizes some of the bedrock assumptions of American criminal procedure that have, to date, prevented more robust doctrinal intervention in the investigative stages and decisions that the Article explores.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: September 23, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Laurin, Jennifer E., Remapping the Path Forward: Toward a Systemic View of Forensic Science Reform and Oversight (September 22, 2012). Texas Law Review, 2013; U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 246. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2150694

Contact Information

Jennifer E. Laurin (Contact Author)
University of Texas School of Law ( email )
727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 465
Downloads: 74
Download Rank: 192,938

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo2 in 0.312 seconds