The Probative Value of Forensic Science Evidence
24 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 3, 2009
When a match is found between forensic science material recovered from a crime scene (e.g., a fingerprint, a strand of hair, a shoe print, etc.) and a reference sample provided by a suspect, the match is widely regarded as powerful evidence that the suspect is the source of the recovered material. However, the probative value of this evidence can vary widely depending on the way in which the evidence is characterized and the hypothesis of interest. This paper uses a likelihood ratio approach to probativity, and describes an experiment that tests whether mock jurors appreciate that the probative value of a reported match offered in support of one hypothesis may differ from the value of that same match when offered in support of another hypothesis.
Keywords: evidence, probative value, forensic science, error
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