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Forensic Science and the Law. Forensic Scientist Ethics. As with other witnesses, forensic scientists obliged to tell the truth. Must attempt to state facts without distortion Omission of relevant information (statistics) Allowing incorrect inferences to be made.

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forensic scientist ethics
Forensic Scientist Ethics

As with other witnesses, forensic scientists obliged to tell the truth.

Must attempt to state facts without distortion

  • Omission of relevant information (statistics)
  • Allowing incorrect inferences to be made

A witness’s expertise allows them to properly present the evidence.

slide3

Law > Forensic Science Ethics

Bad:

Sherlock Holmes type witness that makes conclusions without considering other possible explanations.

Makes an impressive witness, but can unfairly influence jury.

slide4

Law > Forensic Science Ethics

Identical scientific results can be presented differently in court.

Must avoid being overly definitive or overly inconclusive.

slide5

Law > Forensic Science Ethics

Example:

“The gunshot was fired at a distance of 48.2 cm from the victim.”

Problem:

This is overly specific. We know that it is not possible to measure the distance that accurately.

slide6

Law > Forensic Science Ethics

Example:

“The gun appeared to be 2.2 meters from the wall.”

Problem:

This is overly inconclusive. If it was measured to be 2.2 meters, just say that.

slide7

Law > Forensic Evidence

Evidence generated through science is called forensic evidence.

Forensic evidence is circumstantial evidence.

  • Finding a suspect’s blood at a crime scene implies the suspect was also at the crime scene.
slide8

Law > Forensic Evidence

The amount of evidence that makes it into court is a portion of the total evidence.

  • Evidence left at crime scene
  • Evidence collected by investigators
  • Evidence that can be tested and produces results
  • Evidence allowed into court according to rules of evidence
slide9

Law > Forensic Evidence

Admissibility of Evidence

  • In order for scientific evidence to be useful, the method must be reliable.
  • Three slightly varied tests are used to determine admissibility.
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Law > Forensic Evidence

Admissibility of Evidence

Frye test (1923)

  • Is the scientific theory generally accepted in the scientific community?
  • Is the scientific method used generally accepted in the scientific community?
  • Has the technique been applied correctly?
slide11

Law > Forensic Evidence

Admissibility of Evidence

Daubert test (1993)

  • Has the scientific theory or technique been tested?
  • Has the scientific theory or technique been subjected to peer review and publication?
  • What are the known or potential error rates of the theory or technique when applied?
slide12

Law > Forensic Evidence

Admissibility of Evidence

Daubert test (1993)

  • Do standards and controls exist and are they maintained?
  • Has the theory or technique been generally accepted in the relevant scientific community?
slide13

Law > Forensic Evidence

Admissibility of Evidence

Revised Rule 702

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.