In an article Slate.com this week
, forensic expert Roger Koppl and Reason Magazine editor Radley Balko lay out a list of reforms needed to improve the fairness of forensic science in American courtrooms.
And an op-ed in the Olympia, WA Olympian by Koppl and forensic expert Dan Krane argues that defendants should have the right – and funding – to hire their own forensic experts to analyze evidence used in their trials.
In today's "CSI" world, forensic scientists, like the television character Gil Grissom, may have overtaken lawyers as the most influential players in courtroom dramas. The evidence they analyze and present as part of the prosecution team is often the deciding factor in whether a defendant is found guilty or innocent.
But research indicates that forensic evidence is often flawed. So, in fairness, defendants should have a right to forensic expertise, just as they have a right to an attorney.
… The right to forensic expertise also would create the kind of checks and balances that will improve forensics. Here is how: In most criminal cases one side or the other will want the forensic evidence reviewed. That side will have an incentive to document forensic science's shortcomings and bring them to the attention of the court whenever it is strategically appropriate. Slowly, case by case, the system will improve.
Read the full op-ed here
. (Olympian, 08/12/08)