Federal officials acknowledge junk science is making it into court
For defendants in legal proceedings, forensic evidence can be just as confusing as the legal terms. Because many people may not have a degree in science, they may not realize that much of the courtroom science presented may be in reality merely junk science.
What is “Junk Science”?
In recent years, legal analysts have become increasingly worried that paid consultants often fool juries, and even judges, with what sounds like sophisticated, impartial forensic evidence. In reality, that “evidence” is sometimes either sloppily gathered or dishonestly compiled.
Faulty scientific evidence can enter the courtroom process for a number of reasons. Most obviously, a prosecutor might be pressing for a quick result, and willing to use questionable evidence — including junk science — to achieve that result.
In some cases, law enforcement may simply not have the resources to evaluate forensic evidence properly. Instead, they either rely on their own rudimentary skills, or that of outside consultants who themselves might use faulty evaluation tools.
Examples of Junk Science
- Bite mark identification. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has found that it’s often impossible to tell whether a bite was made by a human, much less which human.
- Firearm analysis. Although “experts” sometimes testify that bullet wounds and shell casings can be linked to a single owner’s firearm, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has found that there’s no basis for believing this to be true.
- Fingerprint and hair evidence. The NAS also found that, far too often, analyzing this kind of physical evidence still comes down to human judgment, rather than impartial technology with sophisticated data matching systems.
If you’re in a situation in which “junk science” of a crime investigation implicates you, it’s important to seek expert legal help. A dedicated lawyer is trained to point out the specific flaws in forensic testing that can very well lead to the best legal outcome for you.