Other Formats for Download
A column from the 2016–2017 Chair of the Section of Science & Technology Law.
A report issued by President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) highlights concerns with the “foundational validity” of certain forensic methods, prompting judges to reassess the admissibility and scope of forensic expert testimony and lawyers to reconsider their presentation of forensic evidence in the courtroom.
Although the proponent of forensic expert testimony carries the burden of establishing that its methods and conclusions are reliable, the opponent will have to be active and vigorous to overcome the “general acceptance” of such evidence based on prior judicial rulings.
With the recent termination of the National Commission on Forensic Science, the ABA, educators, and state courts must work to ensure that resources are available to educate judges on science to enable them to effectively function as scientific gatekeepers in their courtrooms.
Although many of the “indicators of arson” relied on for decades are no longer recognized as useful, challenges to inaccuracies in fire investigation are not limited to the investigator’s methodology, but may include attacks on the investigator’s qualifications.
Current reference guides and safety requirements do not address the potential for a fire when “smart home” products malfunction or are cyberattacked, making their evaluation as a potential cause of the fire a complex undertaking.
The National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law offers various forensic training resources to equip prosecutors and defense counsel with the knowledge they need to determine which scientific evidence is crucial and incorporate it strategically.
Discover how to expand your research beyond Google and the keywords “forensic science.”