Friday, April 17, 2009

Scientific Investigation of Crimes

This week Innocence Project founders Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld accepted the Thomas Jefferson Medal of Law at the University of Virginia. An receiving the award, they spoke forcefully about the need to " take the scientific method and apply it to the investigation, adjudication and post-conviction analysis of cases ." The Innocence Project, according to Neufeld, has found that in “60 percent of wrongful conviction cases [in which] forensic scientists testify for the prosecution, they provided invalid testimony — testimony that was scientifically invalid by the prevailing norms at the time.”

The University of Virginia has made a report of the award to Scheck and Neufeld online. A video is also available in a link from their podcast page.

Regular readers of BearingFalseWitness know that Todd's case was marred by forensic irregularity. In Todd's case, the knife that the state alleged to be the murder weapon changed condition while in the state's possession. Although Colorado State Deputy Attorney General Patricia Van Horn admitted state responsibility in the alteration of deposits on the knife, the state Appellate Court found no due process violation because the value of the lost evidence was only "potentially" exculpatory. Another way of looking at the decision is that the mishandled evidence only had "potential" value in determining the truth.

I wonder how many people would accept a physician's failure to perform a critical test because it only had "potential" to diagnose a medical condition.

1 comment:

Doc said...

Keep on keepin' on, Bill.