Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Article on Putting the NAS Report to Work

Here is an excellent article from the Wisconsin Lawyer September, 2010 edition authored by Amelia Bizzaro about putting the National Academy of Sciences Report to work in dealing with forensic evidence in cases. (Previously blogged about here, here, here and here). As Ms. Bizzaro notes, the NAS report is an effective tool for litigators dealing with forensic science. Here is an excerpt from the article (full article here):

The report questioned the reliability of most forensic science disciplines, with the exception of DNA-evidence research, noting that such research is the only discipline that “has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently and with a high degree of certainty support conclusions about individualization (more commonly known as matching of an unknown item of evidence to a specific known source).”1 Compared to DNA-evidence research, the report opines, several forensic science disciplines fall woefully short. “The simple reality is that the interpretation of forensic evidence is not always based on scientific studies to determine its validity.”2

On a national scale, the report’s findings and recommendations are slowly being implemented through legislation. The Senate Judiciary Committee made public a draft outline for legislation in response to the NAS Report. The legislation calls for the creation of the Forensics Science Commission (FSC), which would be made up of members appointed by the President based on recommendations from the NAS and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. If created, the FSC will be responsible for setting “rigorous standards for accreditation,” determining which disciplines require certification and the standards for such certification, developing a “comprehensive strategy for increasing and improving peer-reviewed scientific research related to the forensic science disciplines, including research addressing issues of accuracy, reliability, and validity in the various disciplines,” and establishing “standard protocols, methods, practices, quality assurance standards and reporting terminology for each applicable forensic science discipline in order to ensure the quality and integrity of the data generated.”3

1 comment:

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