Presentation on theme: "The Evolving Forensic Sciences Joseph L. Peterson Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice Huntsville, Texas."— Presentation transcript:
The Evolving Forensic Sciences Joseph L. Peterson Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice Huntsville, Texas
Issues to be Addressed n Landmark changes in the past 35 years n Key technological improvements n Key progress in standards n Key rules of admissibility changes n Cultural changes n Major problems that limit the field n What needs to be done?
Landmarks of past thirty years n 1970s -Growth in violent crime and drug abuse -Federal assistance (LEAA) -Supreme Court decisions limiting police and promoting science -Tripling of laboratories -Growth in state systems
Landmarks (cont) n 1980s -Crime laboratory accreditation begins -Proficiency testing introduced/practiced -Data bases (fingerprints) established -DNA testing introduced in court -Major scientific entities approve of DNA testing -TWGDAM guidelines for DNA testing
Landmarks (cont) n 1990s -Establishment of DNA databases (CODIS) -Convicted offender DNA testing approved -Post-conviction DNA testing/death penalty cases -Associated evidence evaluated (eyewitness) -Supreme Court decisions (Daubert trilogy) -OJ, whistleblowers, and FBI Audit -“Junk science” enters our lexicon
Landmarks (cont) n 2000s -Decade of remarkable changes -Convergence of major forces -Six primary areas
Landmarks (2000s) n Popular culture change -Public learns about forensic science -CSI TV phenomenon -Raised expectations and the “CSI Effect” -Journalists attack forensic examiners and their science -Reliability of science is attacked in press Chicago Tribune, etc.Chicago Tribune, etc.
Landmarks (2000s) n DNA -The science continues to evolve -Progress in precision and sensitivity -Serves to exonerate as well as convict -Becomes the new scientific “gold standard” against which other scientific evidence is compared
Landmarks (2000s) n Aggressive criminal defense litigation -Law school innocence projects (s) -Capital cases are overturned -DNA is instrumental evidence -Extends to other forensic testing -Other evidence (forensic included) questioned -Fallibility becomes issue and death penalty sentences decline
Landmarks (2000s) n Legislative -Laboratory conditions cause for action -Coverdell et al. -Funds earmarked for DNA testing -Funding tied to meeting standards -NIJ 180 Day Report to Congress (2004)
Landmarks (2000s) n Rules of admissibility continue to evolve -The Daubert Cases -Was a scientific process followed -Frye standard also influenced -Long accepted techniques are questioned
Landmarks (2000) n Laboratory Management Hits Front Page -The Houston crime lab scandal (and others) -Backlogs stifle/cripple the field -Laboratory budgets are often the cause -Context effect is discussed
What Needs to be Done? n Funding n Organizational placement (Independence and Neutrality) n Standards should be mandatory n Scientific research -Technical -Statistical empirical data bases n Continuing legal education -Advisors to the courts -Lawyers and judges