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Is Forensic Evidence Valid?

Forensic techniques such as firearms identification, bite mark analysis, footwear analysis and microscopic hair comparisons have become commonplace in the criminal justice system. They are frequently used to prove that someone is guilty of a crime. However, a new report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) claims that these techniques may not be as reliable as the public has been led to believe.

Unreliable Techniques

An article from the Washington Post cuts to the core of the problem: "Unfortunately, judges frequently rely on the experience of a forensic practitioner, and the long-standing use of a given technique, rather than focusing on the technique's scientific validity." As a result, many people have been convicted on unreliable evidence, only to be exonerated later on more trustworthy DNA evidence.

Some of the statistics are scary. For example, in a study of hair analysis by the FBI and the Innocence Project, scientists found that there were flaws 95 percent of the time. Yet this evidence is still being allowed into courtrooms and still being used to convince juries that the accused is guilty. This has simply become a part of the criminal justice system, and judges are having a hard time breaking away from it. At best, some have issued restrictions on what forensic experts can say when they believe that the evidence points to the accused. These linguistic changes may not deter a jury from convicting on evidence that is inherently flawed.

Hope For Those Accused

With changes slow to come, it is increasingly important that people accused of crimes choose a criminal defense attorney who understands how to attack flawed forensic techniques in order to have meaningless evidence discarded or to make it clear to a jury that it should not be taken into consideration. At the Law Offices of Vickers & White, PLLC, we understand what to do when presented with junk science in place of hard evidence. We will fight it. 

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