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New Report to Question Reliability of Forensic (CSI) Evidence

A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences is looking at the reliability of certain forensic evidence techniques many assume are reliable such as the use of fingerprint, tire track and bite mark analyses. These techniques are commonly used by the state to prosecute and convict people accused of a crime. The report is not due until December, but there are indications that the report will cast serious doubts upon the use of these techniques in criminal cases.

It is too early to speculate, but depending on the continued viability of these forensic evidentiary methods, the report could open up arguments to have prior convictions reopened and examined. The report and its findings could also affect future criminal cases and the state’s ability to use such techniques in court. At a minimum, it may allow criminal defense attorneys to produce evidence that these techniques are questionable and certainly not as reliable as juries often assume. For instance, regarding bite mark analysis, one prior study showed that an innocent person was identified 63% of the time based on bite mark evidence.

Once the report comes up, we will have more information regarding its contents and possible ramifications.