Misapplication of forensic analysis has contributed to the wrongful conviction in almost 45% of DNA exonerations nationally and nearly 25% of non-DNA exonerations. Traditional forensic disciplines have the capacity to find consistencies and patterns, but they never have the capacity to match to “100%” certainty as has, for too long, been generally accepted by some courts and practitioners. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences address the limitations of traditional forensic analysis and provided a path forward for standardization and further research for disciplines in which the continued use of analysis can prove helpful. The National Commission on Forensic Science (NCFS) has provided recommendations to the attorney general and the director of National Institute for Science and Technology on several important topics, including a uniform code of professional responsibility, requirements for report contents, discontinuing the use of the phrase “reasonable degree of scientific certainty”, and the necessity of independent scientific evaluation of the validity of forensic science disciplines.
As a result of these findings, IPNO advocates for independently-housed law enforcement crime laboratories, rigorous application of rules of evidence that limit what is accepted as scientific testimony by courts and discontinuation of claims of “matching” that are not based on statistics.
To that end, IPNO developed and conducted trainings for judges and defense lawyers around the region on the findings and warnings contained in the NAS report on forensics in the United States. These trainings included explanations of the limitations of certain disciplines that had previously claimed to have scientific validity and the ways in which courts should be vigilant of those claims.