Analysis of Experiments in Forensic Firearms/Toolmarks Practice Offered as Support for Low Rates of Practice Error and Claims of Inferential Certainty

Law, Probability & Risk (Winter 2013), doi:10.1093/lpr/mgs028

19 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2012 Last revised: 14 Dec 2014

See all articles by Cliff Spiegelman

Cliff Spiegelman

Texas A&M University

William A. Tobin

Forensic Engineering International

Date Written: July 28, 2012

Abstract

This paper critically evaluates experiments used to justify inferences of specific source attribution (‘individualization’) to “100% certainty” and “near-zero” rates of error claimed by firearm toolmark examiners in court testimonies, and suggests approaches for establishing statistical foundations for firearm toolmarks practice that two recent National Academy of Science reports confirm do not currently exist. Issues that should be considered in the earliest stages of statistical foundational development for firearm toolmarks are discussed.

Keywords: firearms identification, forensic certainty, validation studies, ballistics, forensic error rate, forensic testimony

Suggested Citation

Spiegelman, Clifford and Tobin, William A., Analysis of Experiments in Forensic Firearms/Toolmarks Practice Offered as Support for Low Rates of Practice Error and Claims of Inferential Certainty (July 28, 2012). Law, Probability & Risk (Winter 2013), doi:10.1093/lpr/mgs028. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2186681

Clifford Spiegelman

Texas A&M University ( email )

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William A. Tobin (Contact Author)

Forensic Engineering International ( email )

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United States
(804) 448-3955 (Phone)

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