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Forensic Crime Labs: Scrutinizing Results, Audits & Accreditation - Part I
By Frederic Whitehurst
Reported failures within forensic crime labs leads us to question why. The U.S. justice system’s addressing questions of guilt and innocence through discovery in an adversarial process should theoretically act as the quality assurance/quality control mechanism for forensic crime laboratories. However that QA/QC process has been found to have failed across the nation. This article, a primer for the bar, will attempt to provide some guidance toward a fairer review of forensic science. We begin with examples of recent forensic failures to create the awareness that was born in the British Royal Courts of Justice in the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division in the matter Regina v. Judith Theresa Ward. Lord Justices Glidewell, Nolan and Steyn on June 4, 1992 opined that, “For the future is it important to consider why scientists acted as they did. For lawyers, jurors and judges a forensic scientist conjures up the image of a man in a white coat working in a laboratory, approaching his task with
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