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
Date Written: July 20, 2009
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: Suggested Citation