A group of professors at Arizona State University has received a federal grant to study the impact of forensic evidence on criminal trials over the next two years. The two-year project, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice, will look at the response of juries to evidence in proven and unproven fields of forensic science, including fingerprints, bite marks, tool marks, handwriting, footwear impressions and tire tracks.
“The need for this type of research has been made salient in recent years by challenges to the accuracy of some of the forensic sciences, such as fingerprint analysis, and also by a realization that faulty forensic identification evidence sometimes plays an important role in the conviction of innocent people,” notes (Assistant Professor Dawn) McQuiston-Surrett, who is the director of the Legal Psychology Research Laboratory at ASU.
Read the Arizona State press release on the study here
While DNA testing has revolutionized criminal justice over the last two decades, many other forensic disciplines, including some of those that will be studied by the ASU researchers, have been used as evidence in courtrooms without a system of standards. A report on the state of forensic science in the United States is expected soon from the National Academy of Sciences. The Innocence Project is hopeful that the report will call for additional research to validate forensic disciplines, clear standards for using various forensic disciplines in court and nationwide enforcement of those standards.
Read more about the expected NAS report in our December email newsletter