by Roger Koppl A front-page article in yesterday’s Washington Post underlines the importance of establishing a substantive defense right to expertise in the US. The article says, “Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or … Continue reading The Passions and the Interests in Forensic Science
by Roger Koppl McClatchy-Tribune Information Services has been distributing my op ed with Dan Krane on "Science rules the FBI should obey." We discuss an example of epistemic monopoly in action, namely, the FBI's failure so far to release anonymized data from its vast NDIS (National DNA Index System) data set. The NDIS data set contains … Continue reading Epistemic monopoly is still a bad thing
by Roger Koppl The NAS released a much-anticipated report on forensic science last month. The report said, “With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, however, no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or … Continue reading Now it’s official: forensic science is a mess
by Roger Koppl I’ve been railing against epistemic monopolies for a while now, particularly in forensic science. This project complements Peart and Levy’s work on experts. (See their symposium the 2008 Eastern Economics Journal, vol. 38 starting page 103.) I keep insisting that we need redundancy to reduce error rates. Economists, forensic scientists, and philosophers … Continue reading A Gem in the Folded Palm of Forensic Science
by Roger Koppl Forensic scientist Brian Gestring laments “The Dawn of the ‘Forensic Science Provocateur’” in the latest CAC News. That’s the newsletter of the California Association of Criminalists. He objects to the “peripheral waves of lawyers and business professors that have . . . found a new calling, that of Forensic Science Provocateur.” But … Continue reading Flaming torches and pitchforks
by Roger Koppl According to Associated Press, “Bahamas using 2 experts for Travolta son autopsy.” (HT Ed Lopez.) Actor John Travolta’s son Jett died tragically on Friday, January 2nd, after hitting his head in a fall. (It seems he had an illness that left him subject to seizures.) The E! News story says, “A government … Continue reading If redundancy is good enough for the rich and famous . . .
by Roger Koppl The Chicago Tribune gives us another example of the trouble with epistemic monopolies. They uncovered a case in which the police in the Chicago area city of Harvey, Illinois ignored a DNA match in a rape case. In two other rape cases they did not submit the rape kit for analysis. Madison … Continue reading Epistemic monopoly may let the bad guys get away
by Roger Koppl It seems some police and prosecutors do not view DNA evidence as friendly to their cause. I’ve come across two cases in which the police won’t use available DNA evidence. Earlier I blogged about Baltimore, where the police were ignoring DNA evidence. Now the Chicago Tribune reports, that in Lake County, Illinois, … Continue reading Who needs that new-fangled DNA anyway?
by Roger Koppl I gave a webcast yesterday on “How to Improve Forensic Science.” Online questioners challenged me on a point that I now recognize to be underappreciated: The “ACE+V methodology” of fingerprint examination lets you shop your verifications. Let me explain. Fingerprint examinations are performed using the “ACE+V methodology.” The acronym stands for Analysis, … Continue reading The Technical Obsolescence of Forensic Fraud
by Roger Koppl CSI: Detroit is looking a bit less glamorous than its TV cousins. The Detroit Free Press reports that an audit of the Detroit Crime Lab was ordered when an outside expert discovered errors in the police forensics. The audit reveals shocking deficiencies. The forensics monopoly of the Detroit police was broken when … Continue reading CSI: Detroit
by Roger Koppl On December 4th BrightTalk is running a “Forensic Science and Law Summit.” I’ll be giving a talk at 1:15 p.m. Eastern time. I’ll be using the slides from my presentation to the National Academy of Sciences committee on “Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community.” It’s free and you can type … Continue reading See “How to Improve Forensic Science” Live on the Internet
by Roger Koppl Most people think DNA evidence is bulletproof. Molecular biologist and forensic scientist Dan Krane has very nice presentation on some of the problems that can arise in this area. When the biological sample is mixed, degraded, or small, the evidence can be ambiguous, which allows subjective judgment to enter. Recent events in … Continue reading Truth-challenged police forensics in Baltimore
by Roger Koppl A friend of mine is a public defender in the Midwest. These days she is working on a murder case. The county medical examiner (ME) testified for the prosecution in the case. The defense called in an ME from a neighboring county to testify for the defense. The two MEs … Continue reading Truth-Market Failure