Flawed Forensics and Innocence
March 3 and 4, 2016
The criminal justice system in the United States aims to apprehend and prosecute
individuals suspected of violating the law. Many of the resulting convictions,
however, are based on unvalidated or improper forensic science—evidenced by
the prominence of DNA exonerations. Yet, only a fraction of all criminal
cases involve biological evidence that is subject to DNA testing.
Instead, an overwhelming number of convictions are based on other forms of forensic evidence such as hair microscopy, bite mark comparisons, tool mark analysis, and shoe print comparisons, most of which has not been subjected to sufficient scientific scrutiny. In fact, the FBI recently conceded that twenty-six of its experts in the microscopic hair comparison unit overstated forensic evidence favoring prosecutors against criminal defendants for more than two decades.
Unfortunately, the problem is not limited to improper forensic testimony, but it also includes forensic misconduct and the absence of scientific standards.
Accordingly, the West Virginia Law Review is hosting this symposium, entitled "Flawed Forensics & Innocence," in order to educate the public and, hopefully, spark meaningful debate in the legal community regarding the need to make criminal justice reform a priority. This symposium will also provide prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys with a important tools to better question, analyze, and utilize forensic evidence.
The symposium is open to the public, and it will begin on March 3, 2016, 7:00 p.m., at the West Virginia University College of Law with an exclusive screening of acclaimed documentary, The Syndrome.