The upcoming UB Law in Focus webinar, from 5 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13, will look at “‘Bad’ Forensics: How Faulty Evidence Leads to Wrongful Convictions.” Forensic evidence has become a staple of prosecution cases against criminal defendants. But research shows that this so-called foolproof evidence — from fingerprints to firearms to forensic algorithms — is anything but that.
Brandon L. Garrett, author of the new book Autopsy of a Crime Lab, poses the questions that should be asked in courtrooms every day: Where are the studies that validate the basic premises of widely accepted techniques such as fingerprinting? How can experts testify with 100 percent certainty about a fingerprint, when there is no such thing as a 100 percent match? Where is the quality control in the laboratories and at the crime scenes?
Should we so readily adopt powerful new technologies like facial recognition software and rapid DNA machines? And why have judges been so reluctant to consider the weaknesses of so many long-accepted methods?
Garrett, who is L. Neil Williams Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law, where he directs the Wilson Center for Science and Justice, will be joined by Erica J. Suter, director of the Innocence Project Clinic at University of Baltimore School of Law, to discuss this important topic.