The Champion

August 2012 , Page 04 

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From The President: The Power of Science, the Preservation of the Fourth Amendment, and the Strength of Gideon

By Steven D. Benjamin

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As I begin my term as president, I have three goals for NACDL. The first goal is to increase our use of science, a field criminal defense lawyers approach with fear and distrust. That we question and challenge its admissibility and weight when it is offered as evidence by the prosecution is appropriate. Our training seminars so far have focused on how to do just that.

But our training on confrontation must be supplemented with training our lawyers how to use science to prove their case. The scientific method values objectivity, peer review, protocols, testing, and the avoidance of bias — the very factors that by their absence can render eyewitness and other lay testimony so unreliable. Whether our defense is one of reasonable doubt, actual innocence, an affirmative defense, or a mitigating circumstance, scientific evidence is the most powerful proof available. Next February, in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with our best trial lawyers and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences,

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