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The 2009 NAS Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review

48 Crim. L. Bulletin 378 (2012)

Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-11

17 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2014

Paul C. Giannelli

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: April 12, 2012

Abstract

In February 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its report on forensic science: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (2009). The popular press immediately trumpeted the report’s release, with headlines such as (1) “Report Urges Overhaul of Crime Lab System,” (2) “Real-life Police Forensics Don’t Resemble ‘CSI’: Reliability is ‘Low or Non-existent,’ Report Finds” and (3) “Science Found Wanting in Nation’s Crime Labs.”

Within three months of its publication, Justice Scalia cited the report in a Supreme Court decision, writing: “Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation. . . Serious deficiencies have been found in the forensic evidence used in criminal trials.” Both the Senate and the House held hearings, and a bill was introduced in Congress. In addition, the President appointed a committee on forensic science.

Several law schools held conferences on the report, and a number legal journals published symposia. Law review articles variously described the report as a “blockbuster,” “a watershed,” “a scathing critique,” “a milestone,” and “pioneering.” This essay briefly discusses some of these articles as well as aspects of the congressional hearings.

Keywords: forensic science, National Academy of Sciences Report, scientific evidence

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Giannelli, Paul C., The 2009 NAS Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review (April 12, 2012). 48 Crim. L. Bulletin 378 (2012); Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2039024

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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