The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced that it will begin conducting an analysis of the scientific bases for ten forensic disciplines. Through funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, AAAS plans to review the current scientific studies regarding the procedures and testimony of forensic experts. This analysis is a direct response to some members of the National Commission on Forensic Science’s comment that further study is needed to ensure that forensic science meets Daubert’s requirements for validity and reliability in expert testimony.
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences released a report entitled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward which found that “forensic science disciplines suffer from an inadequate research base: Few forensic scientists have the opportunity to conduct research, few academics are positioned to undertake such research, and, importantly, the funding for forensic research is insufficient.” p. 187.
The AAAS analysis will be conduction quality and gap analysis of the following forensic fields in order to determine what existing research supports current practice as well as what additional research would strengthen the scientific foundation of each field:
- Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
- Digital Evidence
- Fire Investigations
- Firearms and Toolmarks/Ballistics
- Footwear and Tire Tracks
- Forensic Odontology- Bitemark Analysis
- Latent Fingerprints
- Trace Evidence- Fibers
- Trace Evidence- Hair
- Trace Evidence- Paint & Other coatings
This project poses a great opportunity to improve the quality of forensic science in the criminal justice system, ensuring greater confidence in the integrity of convictions. It will be important for attorneys to understand the findings of this analysis, as it may demonstrate whether admissibility of certain types of evidence should be re-examined. The AAAS analysis will be a solid step in addressing the flaws which the NAS noted in 2009, which the legal community has been trying to resolve since.
Additional information is available here.