Washington, DC (Jan. 25, 2011) – As more than a decade of crime lab scandals have shown, forensic evidence presented in court is, at times, often bogus – based on speculative research, inadequate quality control, and subjective interpretations. Ensuring the scientific integrity of forensic evidence is essential to preventing wrongful convictions and exonerating the innocent.
Sen. Patrick Leahy has introduced the Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Reform Act of 2011. Two years ago, the National Research Council of the National Academies in Washington, D.C., issued a landmark report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, which set forth a roadmap for forensic evidence reform and renewed the call for fairness in the criminal justice system. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer's report, Principles and Recommendations to Strengthen Forensic Evidence and Its Presentation in the Courtroom, which supports the recommendations of the NRC Report, was approved and adopted by the association’s board of directors in February 2010.
“The great number of exonerations in the past two decades has greatly undermined the public trust in the criminal justice system,” said NACDL President Jim E. Lavine, of Houston. “Confidence that the system correctly identifies the perpetrators of criminal offenses and prevents wrongful convictions has been eroded by lab scandals around the country, and discoveries that convictions have been obtained through error, poor training, pseudoscience, and sometimes outright fraud,” Lavine said.