Regulating Bite Mark Evidence: Lesbian Vampires and Other Myths of Forensic Odontology

54 Pages Posted: 1 May 2019

See all articles by Jennifer D. Oliva

Jennifer D. Oliva

West Virginia University College of Law

Valena Elizabeth Beety

West Virginia University - College of Law

Date Written: March 16, 2019

Abstract

This is the third in a trilogy of pieces that examine and evaluate the admission standards American courts apply to forensic “science” evidence proffered by prosecutors in criminal trials. The first two articles in the trilogy expose the criminal courts’ on-going practice of admitting false forensic evidence that is virtually always excluded in civil cases. They also advance a panoply of procedural and evidentiary solutions aimed at reforming this legally unviable discrepancy. Those solutions are court-centric insofar as they advocate for, among other things, open and early criminal discovery, pre-trial Daubert hearings to challenge evidence and experts, and court-appointment of qualified forensic science experts.

This article takes a comprehensive look at the criminal courts’ treatment of scientifically rebuked bite mark identification evidence. Bite mark identification testimony is unreliable and, as a result, is responsible for dozens of wrongful convictions. Moreover, bite mark analysts have targeted sexual minority defendants by baselessly theorizing that bite marks are more common in crimes involving sexual minorities, generally, and lesbians, in particular. American courts continue to admit bite mark identification testimony notwithstanding its lack of scientific validation, recurring starring role in wrongful convictions, and espousal of lesbian vampire mythology.

This article, therefore, does not rely on the criminal legal system to keep faulty bite mark identification evidence out of the courts. Instead, it demands that the scientific community of forensic odontologists and dentists police flawed bite mark testimony. Specifically, it calls on the national and state forensic odontology oversight entities to enhance their weak or non-existent regulation of bite mark proponents and fulfill their legal mandate to protect the public from unscrupulous and unsupported expert testimony.

Keywords: expert evidence, evidence, forensic science, wrongful convictions, innocence, bite marks, forensic odontology, regulatory boards, state boards of dental practice, state professional licensing boards, lesbian vampires

Suggested Citation

Oliva, Jennifer and Beety, Valena Elizabeth, Regulating Bite Mark Evidence: Lesbian Vampires and Other Myths of Forensic Odontology (March 16, 2019). 94 Washington Law Review (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3353868

Jennifer Oliva (Contact Author)

West Virginia University College of Law ( email )

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

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.wvu.edu/faculty-staff/full-time-faculty/jennifer-d-oliva

Valena Elizabeth Beety

West Virginia University - College of Law ( email )

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

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