Sunday, 13 July 2008

Errors in Evidence

There are important reasons for using a good forensic methodology and keeping an open mind. As forensic practitioners, it is not our job to judge another. Rather, we provide evidence. This should occur in a fair and unbiased manner.

Saks & Koehler (2005) demonstrated the following factors that played a significant role in the wrongful conviction of 86 people who where later exonerated through DNA evidence:

  1. 71% Eyewitness error
  2. 63% Forensic science testing errors
  3. 44% Police misconduct
  4. 28% Prosecutorial misconduct
  5. 27% False/misleading testimony by forensic scientists
  6. 19% Dishonest informants
  7. 19% Incompetent defense representation
  8. 17% False testimony by lay witness
  9. 17% False confessions

It is important to note that Forensic Science Testing errors and false or misleading evidence from the forensic expert played a large part in the worngful convictions of over 60 of the 86 wrongly convicted people.

Forensic science is not there to prove a point, it is there to scientifically examine evidence and provide the evidence available in a completely unbiased manner. This means reporting all of the facts. What many people in the industry forget is that you are working for the court and justice system, not the people who pay you.

[1] Saks, M. Koehler, J. (2005) "The coming paradigm shift in forensic identification science". Science Magazine, 309, Pp. 892-895

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