Goodbye to All That, or, A Fool's Errand, By One of the Fools: How I Stopped Worrying About Court Responses to Handwriting Identification (and 'Forensic Science' in General) and Learned to Love Misinterpretations of Kumho Tire v. Carmichael

30 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2009 Last revised: 30 Mar 2009

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

This article is a picaresque romp through the author's career, much of which has been spent coming to grips with the realities of forensic science, and the courts' abdication of their role as gatekeepers in judging the reliability of prosecution-proffered expertise. The reader follows the author from Bruno Hauptmann's cramped attic, through the Mayflower Madam case and into the era of Daubert and beyond. There is a serious academic point to all this, for the article illustrates how the lower federal courts have managed to ignore or misinterpret Kumho Tire v. Carmichael in such a way as to create a jurisprudence of expertise wholly at odds with the clear mandate of the Supreme Court, often by converting decisions with no precedential status into precedents of breathtaking breadth. In this regard, the article is as much about legal process in general as it is about expert evidence in criminal cases.

Keywords: Evidence, criminal evidence, expert evidence, scientific evidence, Daubert, Kumho Tire, legal process

JEL Classification: K14, K41

Suggested Citation

Risinger, D. Michael, Goodbye to All That, or, A Fool's Errand, By One of the Fools: How I Stopped Worrying About Court Responses to Handwriting Identification (and 'Forensic Science' in General) and Learned to Love Misinterpretations of Kumho Tire v. Carmichael (2007). Tulsa Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1359946

D. Michael Risinger (Contact Author)

Seton Hall University School of Law ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States
(973) 642-8834 (Phone)

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