The 2009 Report by the National Academy of Science on Forensic Science may finally be having an impact. While popular TV shows give the impression that forensic crime lab analysts can divine the perpetrator based on almost anything, the reality is much much different. Setting aside the problem of crime lab dysfunction, during the past year I have mounted two full scale assaults on what can charitably be called junk science. The first assault was against the fire investigation technique known as negative corpus. The second assault was fought in the fantasy land known as forensic document examination, in particular, handwriting/printing comparisons. Both assaults were successful and the more I looked at these two issues the more offended I became as to their supposed legitimacy.
Now a state largely known for wrongful convictions, Texas, had passed a law which allows defendants to challenge their convictions that were secured by now questioned forensic identification methodologies. While hair comparisons and bite mark comparisons are front and center, the law apparently applies to any forensic method that is now being questioned due to scientific advances. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the new Texas law and its impact. See http://on.wsj.com/1adHWs3