The NAS Report: An Evidence Professor’s Perspective

IT'S EVIDENT, (National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law), July 2009

2 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2009  

Jules Epstein

Widener University - Widener University School of Law

Date Written: July 20, 2009

Abstract

The focus of the National Academy of Sciences’ February, 2009 report "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States" was global - to call for systemic improvements to the forensic disciplines and sciences, with emphasis (inter alia) on the research needed to validate expert claims of individualization and identity. In doing so, however, the report called into question the degree of certainty testified to by practitioners of "soft" forensic disciplines, the subjective pattern matching of fingerprints, ballistics, handwriting, tool marks, and tire and shoe print treads. In particular, the Report found an across-the-board inability to validate claims that a correspondence of features between crime scene evidence and a known (e.g., between a latent print left at a burglary and the print of a suspect) proves that the suspect was the sole possible contributor. This Article examines the consequences of the Report in the courtroom, identifying the legal issues that will arise in Frye and Daubert jurisdictions as litigants challenge the admissibility or scope of forensic "expert" testimony.

Keywords: evidence, forensics, scientific evidence, forensic science

JEL Classification: K41

Suggested Citation

Epstein, Jules, The NAS Report: An Evidence Professor’s Perspective (July 20, 2009). IT'S EVIDENT, (National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law), July 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1436650

Jules Epstein (Contact Author)

Widener University - Widener University School of Law ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
P.O. Box 7286
Wilmington, DE 19803-0474
United States

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