Out of the Daubert Fire and into the Fryeing Pan? Self-Validation, Meta-Expertise and the Admissibility of Latent Print Evidence in Frye Jurisdictions
90 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2007 Last revised: 14 Sep 2008
Date Written: 2008
While a fair amount of judicial and scholarly attention has been devoted the admissibility of latent print evidence under the Daubert standard for expert evidence, there has been no evaluation of its admissibility under the Frye standard. This is due the widespread assumption that latent print evidence is obviously admissible under Frye. This, in turn, is based on two assumptions: that latent print individualization is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community and that non-novel evidence is immune to the Frye test. Both assumptions are shown to be false. The article introduces the concept of meta-expertise to denote scientists and scholars who evaluate the knowledge claims of other experts. An analysis of the state of opinion in the scientific community shows that latent print individualization is not generally accepted. This lack of general acceptance points to a broader issue beyond the admissibility of the evidence: the continuing dramatic disconnect between the legal and scientific communities regarding the validity of latent print individualization.
Keywords: Frye, fingerprint, expert evidence, general acceptance, relevant scientific community, meta-expert
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