In an op-ed in the
attorney Joshua Tepfer called for Illinois to review convictions in which debunked forensic methods were used as evidence in trial.
Tepfer cited the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report,
Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward
, which put into question the effectiveness of many forensic methods commonly used in criminal investigations, such as hair microscopy and bite mark analysis. The report discussed how the reliance upon these unreliable and scientifically unproved methods has resulted in many wrongful convictions.
Tepfer noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s review of cases involving microscopic hair analysis testimony from its own experts has resulted in exonerations, including that of Santae Tribble. Tepfer suggests that the state of Illinois follow the example of Texas and form a commission to review individual cases in which unreliable forensic methods were used. He says that the state could assign this task to the existing Illinois Laboratory Advisory Committee, since it is currently dormant and hasn’t met in six years.
Tepfer calls on those within the state’s criminal justice system to take action. He writes: “This is a problem in the criminal justice system that was identified many years ago yet never addressed. Those of us working in the Illinois criminal justice system need to come together to begin to address it.”
Joshua Tepfer is an attorney for the Exoneration Project and a lecturer
at the University of Chicago Law School.
Read the op-ed