Although DNA evidence can seem very convincing, forensic examiners make mistakes. They can run the test incorrectly. They can miss cross-contamination by other DNA. They can misstate the scientific certainty of their findings.
Joe Bryan has not been exonerated, but there is good reason to believe he was wrongfully convicted of the 1985 murder of his wife, Mickey. Bryan was convicted twice despite having been at a conference 120 miles away at the time of the murder. He has served 33 years in prison.
"I think we can safely say that bite mark evidence is just junk," says Michael Semanchik of the California Innocence Project. He speaks with some authority, as he has worked for many years on the exoneration of Bill Richards, who was falsely convicted of his wife's 1993 murder.
It may be true that no two sets of fingerprints are alike, although there is no actual study showing that. Even if it is true, however, the process of matching fingerprints found at crime scenes to prints from other sources is messy. Most often, crime scene prints are partial or smudged, and there are plenty of prints that are thought common enough to match these.
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a blockbuster report challenging the scientific underpinnings of many fields of forensic evidence. The report found that such evidence is rarely supported by rigorous study. Moreover, the analyses are often performed unscientifically, and analysts often overstate the scientific rigor of their evidence during testimony.
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences issued a blockbuster report on the state of the science in forensic investigation. That report concluded that, "with the exception of nuclear DNA analysis ... 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 source."
A cognitive bias is something that keeps you from seeing reality as it is. Instead, the bias, which may be perfectly natural, causes you to see the world as you expect it to be.
If you remember the Emmy Award-winning documentary series "Making a Murderer," you know there is good reason to suppose that the defendants, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey, were wrongfully convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach. As the documentary showed, Attorney Dean Strang and I represented Avery at trial.
Forensic In February 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a ground-breaking report called "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States, A Path Forward." Researchers at NAS had looked at the state of forensic science in the U.S. and found serious problems.
If you've been reading our blog, you know that many common forensic evidence techniques have been called into serious question by scientists. Yet police, prosecutors and judges continue to use or allow these techniques to be used. Sometimes, it seems as if they are used simply because they have been in use for so long. That isn't sound policy.