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The Champion

January-February 2012 , Page 16 

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A Path Forward: Where Are We Now?

By Jennifer Friedman

In February 2009, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the most prestigious scientific organization in the country, issued a landmark report titled Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (NAS Report). After studying and evaluating a number of different forensic science disciplines, the NAS concluded, “With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis … no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.”1 The report concluded that there was in fact little science in many of the forensic science disciplines. Moreover, “much forensic evidence — including, for example, bite marks and firearm and toolmark identifications — is introduced in criminal trials without any meaningful scientific validation, determination of error rates, or reliability testing to explain the limits of the discipline.”2 This report is

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