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.
"How many cases of innocent people being wrongly convicted have to occur before people realize that there's a very broad spectrum of forensic science?" asks U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, a former member of the National Commission on Forensic Science.
"Some experts extrapolate far beyond what can be supported," reads a 2009 National Academy of Sciences report about bloodstain pattern analysis. It adds, "The uncertainties associated with bloodstain-pattern analysis are enormous."
Did you know that multiple studies have shown that faulty, unscientific or exaggerated forensic science is a major cause of wrongful convictions? According to the National Registry of Exonerations, improper or invalid forensic science has been discovered in approximately 24 percent of all exonerations since 1989.
Studies have shown that invalid or inaccurate forensic science is a factor in almost half of wrongful convictions. In the approximately 354 cases where DNA later exonerated an Innocence Project client, poor forensic science contributed to most of the underlying convictions.