Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This story and its implications strikes fear into my heart. I'm sure it strikes fear into the hearts of many a defender. I hope it strikes fear into the hearts of lay persons who want a criminal justice system that gets proper results, you know prosecuting people who actually commit crimes and leaving those who didn't commit crimes the hell alone. I want to believe it strikes fear into the hearts of all prosecutors, as well, but sadly I am familiar with too many stories of prosecutors relying on really shady evidence and experts to believe it. Of course most prosecutors want good, solid forensic experts, but there are some who just want convictions over all else.

In my perfect world, though, anyone and everyone would be appalled at the idea of just anyone hopping on the internet, taking a taste, and, BAM!, getting some certificate from an official-sounding organization proclaiming that anyone is an expert in some field of forensic sciences. Just like that.

Look, all I want is good science in our courtrooms. Well, I want good science in our class rooms and our public policy and everywhere else that science exists, too. But in our courts, I'm not opposed to experts testifying, to using science to convict the guilty. Heck, I'm not even opposed to pushing the scientific envelope. But I want it done right, following sound scientific principles. And that's not going to happen if the CSI equivalent of diploma mills are churning out certificates and credentials and "experts" who really don't know what they're talking about.

My fellow defenders, we need to be aware of this stuff. We need to be prepared to cross-examine these witnesses so we can expose their lack of real credentials. We also need to do the research so we can expose them when they spew fancy-sounding terms and phrases that make it sound like they know what they're talking about but any real expert would see all their flaws.

And, hey, potential jurors, if you could not assume that anytime the defense goes after a state's expert it's just smarmy lawyer tricks, that'd be great, too.

1 comment:

WhyNot said...


I can't remember how I ended up here - I was surfing from blog to blog - so I may not find you again so easily.

Anyway, seems a pity you don't get any comments; you seem like a smart person who has heaps to share that is not your average stuff.

Ok, lemme try to battle with that 2-word anti-robot thingie, lol...

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