Crime Labs Employ Shoddy Science: Report

Experts will call for independent agency to oversee forensics
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2009 9:08 AM CST
A forensic scientist trainee looks over bullet casings at the Virginia State Forensics lab in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Jul. 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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(Newser) – The country's crime labs are seriously deficient, according to a new report that's expected to shake up the field of forensics, the New York Times reports. Evidence portrayed as incontrovertible is often far from it, says the report, which Congress commissioned from the National Academy of Sciences. Forensic analysis often falls to poorly trained technicians who then exaggerate the accuracy of their methods in court.

The report—expected to give ammunition to defense lawyers nationwide—urges that forensic practices be upgraded and standardized. It also calls for the creation of an independent agency to regulate the field. One scientist who helped select the report's authors said federal law enforcement agencies resent the intervention of mainstream science in the courts and sought to derail the report.