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Trial by Numbers
By Ted Vosk
Uncertainty in the Quest For Truth and Justice
“All results for every forensic science method should indicate the
uncertainty in the measurements that are made, and studies must be
conducted that enable the estimation of those values.”1
On Aug. 5, 2010, prosecution expert Rod Gullberg was handed a breath alcohol test ticket with the values 0.081 and 0.080
printed on it. Assuming the lab followed proper quality assurance
procedures and testing protocols, all parties agreed that these were the
results of an accurate and reliable test. Gullberg was then asked,
given these results and the fact that this was an accurate and reliable
test, could he state beyond a reasonable doubt that this individual’s
breath alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeded a 0.080 (the per se limit in the state of Washington). Gullberg responded: “I would have to say yes based on these results here.”
Similar evidence and testimony, concerning a range of forensic
measurements, are introduced in cou
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