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Failed Forensics: How Forensic Science Lost its Way and How it Might Yet Find it

Posted: 27 Dec 2008  

Michael J. Saks

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

David L. Faigman

University of California Hastings College of the Law

Date Written: December, 23 2008

Abstract

A group of nonscience forensic sciences has developed over the past century. These are fields within the broader forensic sciences that have little or no basis in actual science. They are not applications of established basic sciences, they have not systematically tested their own hypotheses, and they make unsupported assumptions and exaggerated claims. This review explains the nature and origins of those nonscience forensic fields, which include the forensic individualization sciences and certain other areas, such as fire and arson investigation. We explore the role of the courts in maintaining the underdeveloped state of these fields and consider suggestions for improving this state of affairs (addressing the potential role that could be played by these fields themselves, by the courts, and by normal sciences).

Keywords: courts, Daubert, science, scientific evidence

Suggested Citation

Saks, Michael J. and Faigman, David L., Failed Forensics: How Forensic Science Lost its Way and How it Might Yet Find it (December, 23 2008). Annual Review of Law & Social Science, Vol. 4, December 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1319965

Michael J. Saks (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

David L. Faigman

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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