Tag Archives: forensics

One in five decisions by courts unsafe because of ‘misleading evidence’

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap. A new analysis of close to a thousand Court of Appeal cases over the last seven years has found that more than one in five decisions by lower courts (22%) were argued unsafe because they contained misleading evidence. The University College London study, which looked at the transcripts of 996 cases, also revealed that more than three-quarters of successful appeals (76%) were based on reinterpretations of the same materials available in the original trial rather than new information. Scientists Nadine Smit, Ruth Morgan and David Lagnado maintained that when forensic evidence misled judges and juries, it did so because of a misinterpretation of its relevance, probative value or validity. Their paper called on lawyers and expert witnesses to bring more transparency to the relationship between evidence and hypothesis, taking care to avoid ‘an erroneous understanding of the evidential value of evidence’. Belief in a …

DNA Evidence Under The Microscope

This piece was originally published by The Justice Gap.   At the first mention of ‘DNA evidence,’ our minds can be forgiven for wandering to starched white lab coats and the tortoise-shell glasses of television detectives. A report released today by researchers from the European Forensic Genetics Network of Excellence (EUROFORGEN) wants to challenge that. ‘Making Sense of Forensic Genetics’, written in partnership with the charity Sense about Science, aims to clarify the limitations of what DNA can and can’t tell us in criminal investigations. ‘Such is the power of DNA to identify, convict, and exonerate,’ the report argues, ‘that many perceive it to be infallible.’ While forensic evidence has given prosecutors and detectives a vital tool in their investigations and in court, the researchers argue that we should acknowledge that the science is not fool proof and can rarely stand up alone. ‘The DNA evidence won’t give a “yes” or …