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“Jailed for Bad Science”


According to some statistics, in more than 40 percent of cases that have proven to be wrongly adjudicated, where people were convicted of serious crime such as murder or rape, false or misleading forensic science was a major factor in the wrongful conviction. And that is just based on one study: The Department of Justice and FBI also specifically found that, in 3,000 criminal cases involving hair analysis specifically, scientifically invalid testimony was used in more than 95 percent of cases to inculpate a defendant.

It is perhaps the number one myth in our era that science will always (automatically) lead us to truth, and this means that, when presented in a criminal trial, it must lead to convicting the guilty. The reality is that the precursors for most of these techniques were originally developed by police tools as investigative tools, with no real claimed connection to science. The information obtained was then somehow introduced as evidence in cases by law enforcement or lab technicians as “forensic experts,” even though none of them had extensive scientific training.

“A Reasonable Degree of Scientific Certainty”

Their testimony – described as being reached using a phrase that would become a precursor to conviction – “a reasonable degree of scientific certainty”—would also go largely uncontested due to the defense very generally not having the tools to challenge it. Thanks to DNA testing—yet another technique which has proven to be more reliable—hundreds of felons have revealed to have been convicted based on faulty forensic science, even though the technique has yet to even more being convicted of crimes. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, almost one out of four inmates exonerated of murder or other serious felonies within the last 30 years were convicted with flawed or misleading forensic evidence.

Difficulty Obtaining a New Trial

Still, a number of techniques—ballistic comparisons, bite-mark comparisons, fingerprints, blood-spatter analysis, and others—are used even though there is little science behind the forensic “sciences” and, meanwhile, innocent people spend decades in prison for crimes they did not commit, and it remains extremely difficult to get courts to reexamine questionable evidence that was used to convict them. In short, once certain findings are used to convict someone – even if they lack scientific basis – it is extremely difficult to undo the harm they’ve done. In particular, a number of judges find that new evidence is insufficient to grant a new trial when experts cannot agree on its significance.

Contact Our Orlando Forensic Science Attorneys

The Baez Law Firm specializes in the use of our own forensic science when it comes to providing criminal defense services. We know forensic science better than the prosecutors, and understand the importance of getting it done right the first time around. Contact our Orlando criminal attorneys today to find out more about our services.


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