Ten Years After the National Academy of Sciences’ Landmark Report on Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward – Where are We?

4 Pages Posted: 24 May 2019 Last revised: 29 Jun 2019

See all articles by Harry T. Edwards

Harry T. Edwards

Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; New York University School of Law

Date Written: April 12, 2019

Abstract

We are still struggling with the inability of courts to assess the efficacy of forensic evidence. When a forensic expert testifies about a method that has not been found to be valid and reliable, the expert does not know what he does not know and cannot explain the limits of the evidence. This is unacceptable. Judges and juries must understand the levels of uncertainty that are associated with forensic evidence so that they can determine whether the prosecution has met its burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

We still need a national, independent agency to oversee forensic research and practices. This was the most important recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community. We also need more top scientists engaged in serious research to determine the validity and reliability of forensic methods. And we need these individuals to appear in court to explain the limits of the evidence.

Keywords: Criminal Justice; Forensic Science; Wrongful Convictions

JEL Classification: K4, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Harry T., Ten Years After the National Academy of Sciences’ Landmark Report on Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward – Where are We? (April 12, 2019). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3379373 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3379373

Harry T. Edwards (Contact Author)

Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ( email )

333 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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