Mother Jones on the fallibility of forensic science, and efforts by AG Sessions to halt reform | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mother Jones on the fallibility of forensic science, and efforts by AG Sessions to halt reform

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 2:04 PM

click to enlarge Ledell Lee leaves a hearing in LR in which he requested that forensic evidence in his case be re-examined.
  • Ledell Lee leaves a hearing in LR in which he requested that forensic evidence in his case be re-examined.
Given that we've been trying to execute eight men in recent weeks, with several of their cases hinging on forensic evidence collected after the crime, you might want to read this story from Mother Jones on the fallibility of forensic science, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to disband a panel of lawyers, scientists, judges, crime lab technicians, law enforcement officers, and academics who meet quarterly in D.C. with the goal of putting more scientific rigor into evidence analysis and courtroom testimony, which is often used to incriminate and convict defendants.

From the article:

Analyses regularly presented in courtrooms—using such evidence as bite marks, hair, and bullets—that for decades have been employed by prosecutors to convict and even execute defendants are actually incapable of definitively linking an individual to a crime. Other methods, including fingerprint analysis, are less rigorous and more subjective than experts—and popular culture—let on. But on the witness stand, experts routinely overstate the certainty of their forensic methods. In 2015, the FBI completed a review of 268 trial transcripts in which the bureau's experts used microscopic hair analysis to incriminate a defendant. The results showed that bureau experts submitted scientifically invalid testimony at least 95 percent of the time. Among those cases with faulty evidence, 33 defendants received the death penalty and 9 had been executed.

It should be noted that in the case of Ledell Lee, executed last Thursday for the 1993 murder of Jacksonville resident Debra Reese, the only forensic evidence introduced at court to tie him to the crime was a single speck of blood on his shoe — which could only be determined to be of human origin, but not the source — and African-American hair found at the scene, which investigators testified was microscopically similar to Lee's hair.  Prior to his execution, Lee's request to use modern DNA techniques to reexamine the hair was denied.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by David Koon

Readers also liked…

  • More on how highways were used to wipe out "blight" of non-white neighborhoods

    Vox, a news website that concerns itself with energy and other issues, has a fine piece, including before and after images, on the history of the U.S. interstate system and why roads were built through the middle of cities (unless people of influence stopped them — see Manhattan, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.)
    • Mar 22, 2016
  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016
  • Civil War over in Fort Smith; lawyer strikes his Rebel mascot battle tent

    KSFM reports that Joey McCutchen, the lawyer who's been trying to restart the Civil War in Fort Smith over the School Board's decision to drop the Rebel mascot and related trappingsfor Southside High School, is dropping his School Board takeover campaign.
    • May 27, 2016

Most Shared

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.

Most Viewed

  • Trump's ratings slide everywhere, but Arkansas remains in favorable territory

    Donald Trump's rating is in negative territory in two-thirds of the U.S., but not Arkansas, though his numbers are well below the vote he received in 2016.
  • A night out: Beer and bullets

    A late night shooting in the Fayetteville entertainment district brings a reminder of the legislature's recent expansion of gun law.
  • Magic Springs coaster stops

    The X Coaster at the Magic Springs amusement park in Hot Springs stopped running this afternoon, KARK reports, and the station quotes the park operator ass saying guests are now "enjoying the park."
  • Whatever secret bill Senate considers, winners and losers are the same

    The U.S. Senate seems likely to vote Tuesday on a secret health bill. Whatever version is rolled out — and if Sen. John McCain's doctor approves a fly-in so he may vote — the outcome is the same. Bad for working poor and previously sick; good for rich people.
  • Judge clears effort to gather vote information

    A federal judge has said the Trump commission aimed at providing evidence he really didn't lose the popular vote may proceed with asking states to supply vast amounts of information on voters because it is not technically a federal agency subject to privacy laws.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation