There has been a growing awareness, some would say crisis, concerning the mediocre quality of expert forensic testimony submitted to the courts in the United States. This appears to be a function of weak methods, and a low threshold for judicial gatekeeping, despite clear mandates in Rule 702 and Daubert and progeny on the foundations for sound forensic science.
The recently published National Research Council Report, “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward” (2009) addresses the problematic quality of science in the courts and advocates a shift in focus to the evaluation of methods and techniques which form the basis of expert testimony.
The NRC report focuses on the fundamentals of the scientific method as applied to forensic practice—hypothesis generation and testing, falsifiability and replication, and peer review of scientific publications; and the assessment of forensic methods and technologies—the collection and analysis of forensic data; accuracy and error rates of forensic analyses, sources of potential bias and human error in interpretation by forensic experts, and proficiency testing of forensic experts.
We are engaged in an active program of forensic decision-making processes and will report on this further.
National Research Council (2009). Strengthening forensic science in the United States: A path forward. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.