Every criminal defense lawyer needs to read this article. Forensic science is not a cut and dried scientific application of 2 plus 2 equals the Defendant did it.
In the end, in any forensic scientific analysis, including DNA analysis, the matter always involves some form of subjective interpretation of the data produced by the analyst.
In other words their opinion enters into the equation, into their reports, and into their courtroom testimony.
Since a courtroom trial is a search for the truth, that would be great if they were right all the time.
But they’re not. In a study conducted a few years ago, a large number of crime labs were given a hypothetical bank robbery to solve using DNA analysis. A large number of crime labs, 74 to be exact, implicated an innocent person after coming to the wrong result.
This NYT piece talks in more detail about this study and some real cases where forensic scientists got the wrong answer and put an innocent person behind bars.
The thing is, and this is not discussed in the piece, defense counsel didn’t catch these mistakes in these real cases either. In this day and age, a defense attorney needs to know not just a lot about courtroom procedure, the rules of evidence, and the criminal law.
A defense lawyer must be ready and able to look at a case involving a forensic science problem and be willing to tackle it to show in court that these experts are wrong.
The Law Office of William Wolf, LLC has years of experience writing and lecturing about forensic science and cross-examination of expert witnesses as well as actual experience in the courtroom cross-examining expert witnesses, including DNA analysts.
The link to the study can be found here:
And the link to the NYT piece can be found here:
If you or a loved one has a criminal case that involves a forensic science issue like DNA analysis, give us a call at (312) 728-8186 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.