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Independent Crime Laboratories: The Problem of Motivational and Cognitive Bias

21 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2010  

Paul C. Giannelli

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: March 11, 2010

Abstract

One of the most controversial recommendations in the National Academy of Sciences report on forensic science — Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: The Path Forward — concerns the removal of crime laboratories from the administrative control of law enforcement agencies. For decades scholars have commented on the “inbred bias of crime laboratories affiliated with law enforcement agencies.” Some commentators have proposed independent laboratories as the remedy for this problem, and in 2002, the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment proposed the establishment of an independent state crime laboratory. This essay documents the problems that triggered the NAS Report’s recommendation. It also examines the counter arguments as well as alternative approaches, including additional measures that should protect forensic analyses from improper influence.

Keywords: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States, A Path Forward, Forensic Science, Administration, Bias

JEL Classification: K14, K40

Suggested Citation

Giannelli, Paul C., Independent Crime Laboratories: The Problem of Motivational and Cognitive Bias (March 11, 2010). Utah Law Review, Forthcoming; Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1568915

Paul C. Giannelli (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-2098 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)

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