Draft Report Condemns Shoddy Practices at Many Crime Labs
A draft report by the National Academy of Sciences reportedly says many crime labs use shoddy techniques and exaggerate the accuracy of their findings.
The report by the National Academy of Sciences will likely be cited by defense lawyers seeking to refute scientific evidence, the New York Times reports. The newspaper says the report is a “sweeping critique” of forensic methods used to analyze fingerprints, firearms identification, bite marks, spattered blood, hair and handwriting.
Peter Neufeld, a co-director of the Innocence Project, presented a study to the academy showing that out of 137 convictions overturned due to DNA evidence, false or misleading statements had been made in 60 percent of the cases about blood, hair, bite mark, shoe print, soil, fiber and fingerprint tests.
The report, scheduled to be released this month, is still subject to change, the story says. The draft calls on Congress to create a federal agency that can promote universal forensic standards and help ensure independence in the field.
“I’m sure that every defense attorney in the country is waiting for this report to come out,” said one anonymous source who spoke to the Times. “There are going to be challenges to fingerprints and firearms evidence and the general lack of empirical grounding. It’s going to be big.”