Changing the Culture of Disclosure and Forensics

Washington and Lee Law Review Online, Vol. 73, No. 2, 2017

16 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2017 Last revised: 28 Nov 2017

See all articles by Valena Elizabeth Beety

Valena Elizabeth Beety

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; West Virginia University - College of Law

Date Written: February 21, 2017

Abstract

This Essay responds to Professor Brandon Garrett's "The Constitutional Regulation of Forensic Evidence," and, in particular, his identification of the dire need to change the culture of disclosing forensic evidence. My work on forensics is — similarly to Garrett's — rooted in both scholarship and litigation of wrongful convictions. From this perspective, I question whether prosecutors fully disclose forensics findings and whether defense attorneys understand these findings and their impact on a client's case. To clarify forensic findings for the entire courtroom, this Essay suggests increased pre-trial discovery and disclosure of forensic evidence and forensic experts. Forensic analysts largely work in police-governed labs; therefore, this Essay also posits ways to ensure complete Brady compliance as well as obtain accurate and reliable forensic findings. Correctly understanding forensic findings can remedy a lack of transparency surrounding whether results were completely disclosed and whether the results support the testimony of lab analysts. Finally, to assist the court with its gate-keeping role of admitting forensic science disciplines and findings, this Essay recommends that courts appoint independent experts under Federal Rule of Evidence 706.

Keywords: forensics, wrongful convictions, innocence, discovery, evidence, Brady, disclosure

Suggested Citation

Beety, Valena Elizabeth, Changing the Culture of Disclosure and Forensics (February 21, 2017). Washington and Lee Law Review Online, Vol. 73, No. 2, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3031570

Valena Elizabeth Beety (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

101 Law School Drive
Morgantown, WV West Virginia 26506
United States

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