Skip to main content

tv   M. Chris Fabricant Junk Science  CSPAN  November 7, 2022 8:00am-8:50am EST

8:00 am
amuses me, piques my curiosity. the world is just littered with things to write about. it was said of napoleon that he could not look at a landscape without seeing a battlefield. if you're a chummist, you ought to be able to -- columnist, you can't look at the world without seeingolumn topics. they just come at you. >> visit to watch the rest of this program where you can find it and all previous episodes by clicking on the "after words" tab near the top of the page. >> and you've been watching booktv, every sunday on c-span2 watch nonfiction if authors discuss their books. television for serious readers. and watch them all online anytime at you could also find us on twitter, facebook and youtube @booktv. ..
8:01 am
his book "junk science: and the american criminal justice system" chronicles a prosecution of individuals who were found guilty of capital murder. and the fight to overturn those wrongful convictions. he weaves together the courtroom battles from mississippi to texas to new york and beyond, and he takes the reader on a journey into the heart of a broken, racist justice system. and the role that forensic science plays in maintaining the status quo. and joining him for this conversation and moderating it is allison leotta, montgomery county alone, a former federal prosecutor turned author who has been dubbed the female john
8:02 am
grisham, and also serves on the board of directors for the mystery writers of america. and what i actually enjoyed about listening to them in a few moments and their journeys that they've been on before becoming a lawmaker montgomery county i used to be a journalist. i worked at cnn for 12 years and it's conversations like this that help inform me and help inform the public about what we need to do better to make our community a more fair and equitable place. and to build the movements to make that change possible. so without further ado of luck to turn over the conversation to these two. so thanks very much. [applause] >> thank you, evan. and i would like to just add that in working on making john grisham called the mail allison leotta. [applause] i'm really excited to be a today with chris fabricant. he has written not just an important book and what i think
8:03 am
you should all read because of what it talks about in out critiques our system but also it's a thriller. it reads like a thrill like all my colleagues are trying to make happen. i listen to them on tape of my 50 nelson. is appropriate for him. it's a little graphic but it's good. i recommend you all by yet. i am going to give a little content warning. there are tense after that a ponies and sparkles. this is not that can't, okay? we are going to be talking about capital punishment, death penalty, marks, rapes, murders, so buckle up. chris, welcome to d.c. >> thank you. good to be here. >> you to such important work, and your book pulled me from the very first moment. you start with a story of keith alan harward and you start with every woman's worst nightmare scenario. tell us what happened to teresa. >> yes.
8:04 am
teresa in the summer of 1982 was living with her husband jesse in newport news virginia near the navy shipyard that's in there. jesse was welder on the ship working on the uss carlton which was drydock in newport news at the time and she was a 22 your mother of three. she had three kids. they're all under five. she spent a late sunday afternoon in september taking kids to the pool, doing laundry. and during the course of the tissues in a car and she patched a sailor hitchhike on side of his book, which was unusual at the time. there were a lot of sales in newport news. there were, in fact, thousands assumes in newport news and she didn't -- he yelled bitch added to the window. he's kind of unsettling but she didn't take much more about it through the course of her day. later that night she put her children to bed and she went to
8:05 am
bed upstairs, and then down the hall she went to that in her own room. she felt an easy and she had this memory of what happened earlier in the day, and also to go back a little bit bit. later that afternoon there had been a moment where she was out in her backyard, she was hanging up the laundry and another sailor suddenly was come at her back gate making eye contact with her, staring at her, and her instincts told her that this was not a friendly stare here and so she called her children back in the house and then later that night she was having these memories of the day and is making her uncomfortable switch went downstairs. she bolted the back door with a two by four. that was, , her husband usual entry into the house. and she went to lay down on the couch and was kind of waiting for jesse to come home, and he doesn't home home and children
8:06 am
midnight, working late. she hears a knock on the door around one in the morning and she runs to the door and it is jesse. she's relieved, they spent some time together. they go upstairs. she finally falls asleep. sometime between one in the morning and two, maybe three morning she is woken again by the sound of a loud thumping noise, and i sailor standing over there bed with a crowbar above his shoulder and he brought it down on jesse said in beaten to death with the crowbar while she was lying on the floor next to him, and he had his boots, shoes under his boot and held her down while he killed her husband. and then spent the next three hours sexually torturing her on various locations around the house and wonder if she made any sound that her children would be next. so she never made a noise.
8:07 am
she endured this torture both upstairs next to her dying husband and then downstairs in the living room on the couch. and on the couch where the final assault occurred the perpetrator bitten up and down her thighs, very painful, deep injuries. finally he was finished. he put it in the bottom of a sleeping bag and asked her for directions to norfolk. he rummaged through her purse, still whatever money she had and left. therese went back upstairs. she got a rifle and called the police. her children at through the entire ordeal. and then at the hospital they took what's known locally as a rape kit and many, many photographs of the bite marks on her thighs. but during the course of the assault was healed had put a diaper over her head to prevent her from looking at his face, and when he walked on house he held her from behind so she couldn't see his face. and downstairs it was dark, and
8:08 am
so she really never got a look at him. so she could identify the person who i done this except for that he was a sailor, apparently low ranked judging for the chev runs on his sleeve. and there were no fingerprints. there was no blood evidence of any to speak of. there was no eyewitnesses. there was no particular suspect other than somebody that was white, about 5'10", weighed about 170 pounds and 70 pounds and actually the only evidence they had spent half the guys in this tent. >> right. and at the time this i could describe generally about 3000 sailors on the u.s. as carl vinson at the time. so where'd he go from here, right? is that the one of the most sensational rape murders in history of newport news. they have no suspects they have 1000 suspects so what they did is they decided they would bite mark evidence had just been introduced into the american
8:09 am
criminal legal system made very famous by the ted bundy trial and something else i going to at some length in the book is how ted bundy will make bite marks and mainstream science. and they decided what they're going to do is they were going to flag everybody, every sin on the uss carl vinson the matched the description generally. they're going to get outlines of their teeth, and they're going to try to compare those teeth to the bite marks on her thighs. so dental dragnet if you will. it had never been accomplished before never been tried before and this is really don't believe they thought they had to go one. and keith harward was station, use senate and u.s. navy come served honorably. he was 27. his teeth were flagged as a potential biter, but the two dennis dennis that examined him at that time at excluding him as a potential source of the bite marks. another month went by, your
8:10 am
senators, to make your senators including the senator from virginia and senator from new york alphonse maddin some of you might or older remember who he is, putting pressure to make an arrest. so there was intense activity in this affectation but only one getting anywhere until, use that a lot of cases that there will be one fact, one thing that would change the course of an investigation and something of a suspect and subject start painting a bull's-eye around the target. that's what happened to keith harward. keith harward was in a drunken dispute with his girlfriend. she hit them with a frying pan and he bit her on the shoulder and ended up getting arrested. so the police get wind of this sailor roughly matching the description. they ignore the fact is harward had a mustache at the time and the perpetrator was clean shaven. shaven. but apart from that he looked good for it. because he was a known fighter
8:11 am
now, and so what they did is they get a very famous forensic dentist and a celebrity at the time also to sight in the ted bundy case to come dented newport news and see what's what comes if we can match this sailor who was a biter and probable killer to this bite mark. after about 24 hours of study, and he contacted another forensic dentist who concurred. the prosecution went back to the original dentists who had excluded him and had all this information, right, that these two at a a board-certified forensic dentists, they both change their mind and decided that keith harward was good for the biter. the defense went into more experts and because those expert also knew that format forensic dentist at all convincing conclusion, they agreed with the prosecution experts. so keith harward went to trial for capital murder and had no defense expert, , not that it
8:12 am
would have mattered, almost all the wrongful convictions i talk about their defense expert that were disputing the prosecution experts but the defense expert as you will not they were not available in this case. and really only reason that he wasn't executed was because his parents got on the witness stand and begged for his life, and it was the only time that keith harward it endorsing his fatr weep in his entire life. then you went away for the next 34 years. fast-forward, i started at the innocence project in 2012. and the strategic litigation department i think we'll talk about some of the beginnings of this department at the innocence project a a little bit later,s staffed with mitigating the leading contributing factors for runkle conviction. so what we know from the innate exonerations that i witnessed mitigation is a leading contributor factor in number two right behind that is misapplication of forensic
8:13 am
sciences, junk science if you will. so what we decided when we're going to begin this type of litigation because we had always done only dna litigation, right, that we're going to take cases and if they could find biological evidence and tested, that would prove innocence, that would take the case. that was her sole criteria. no matter how many witnesses there might be or confession to whatever, just that dna was this truth serum that we recognized. here we would do something different. we were going to look for prisoners that had been convicted on junk science, and i cast my paralegals, a brilliant paralegals with fun every case and a country where bite mark evidence had been used. so we took capital cases. we took misdemeanor cases. we took pretrial cases. we took posthumous cases. entering the course of that search which is nationwide and continues to this day because we're still finding them, my paralegal came across keith
8:14 am
harward appeal in the virginia supreme court. you could look up this appeal online if you wish, and he put on my desk at the innocence project and were looking through these cases, and i read, you know, most appeals and you're familiar with this, if they're affirming the conviction, particularly a brutal climb after crime like this tended to dwell on the suffering of the victim and just all how obvious it is that the defendant is guilty, and dismissing these claims. and this wasn't that it was strange in that it wasn't this full throated endorsement of his conviction, and if you're are skeptical about bite mark evidence, which of course i was, he seemed innocent just from reading the appeal but affirmed his conviction. >> he seemed like there was almost no evidence against him. teresa never identified him. she and a suggestive context in a courtroom, there had been nothing else tying him to the scene except for those bite
8:15 am
marks. is it fair to say he was convicted almost entirely based on the bite mark customer? >> entirely. you see this in a lot of cases that are right about and a lot of the work that i do is add there will be the main component which a be something like bite marks and that they will have some extra some throw wins. in this case what you did is they hypnotize, they hypnotize teresa and they hypnotize a night watchman of the uss carl vinson. because he had seen a sailor coming back from, it was saturday night, no, sunday night. they came back late in the blood splattered uniform. the timing had worked the first underwent for him like, that sailor was probably not, the perpetrator because it would've been too early. so the hypnotized him. after hypnosis that timeframe changed. identified keith harward as somebody who's coming back from
8:16 am
a very late night out in a blood spattered uniform. and it used dogs and evidence which is been implicated in a bunch of wrongful convictions to track the perpetrator from the house to the uss carl vinson. to convince them and that s probably this person and that was keith harward. so that was it. that was enough to do it. and i think that that we found dna evidence he would be in prison still today, and dead. >> a lot back then and talk about the bite mark evidence. the thing that i think was present almost like fingerprints, like we've made a match and we can tell i think the use the term to a reasonable degree of dental certainty. >> whatever heck that means. >> what does it mean? that keith harward is a guy who bit to recess thighs. tell us about what does that mean and tell us about the guilt of dentist who came forward and were presenting themselves as
8:17 am
experts who could use bite marks the same way that fingerprint analysts use finger print. >> yeah. so both for litigation and writing this but i was very interested in the kind of the origin of bite mark evidence. like, where did this come from? who didn't fit a? how to get into the criminal justice of the begin with. i had to file a lawsuit against the department of justice to get into the american board of forensic old odorant ologies archives which is in silver spring, maryland. because of not going to let me in because i'm a critic, right? so i filed the first maclin to get into the archive and i found a trove of documents that kind of illuminated what they were doing and what was happening, or in the '70s, is at forensic scientists were becoming celebrities. it was becoming a field that you could aspire to be a forensic scientist. that didn't really exist before. the wasn't really an organized effort to have a guild, you know, structure or board certification for something like
8:18 am
forensic. but the forensic dentists were always with us. they've been with us for hundreds of years and with the bending president find dead bodies. so you hear about a body that spurned him recognition that signified by dental records, that is your from the neighborhood forensic odorant all just doing good work come basically valid work instead of buying human remains, usually it works with notable exceptions were people showed up alive that were found dead, but they were working in mortuary in the medical examiner office is next to forensic pathologist and the pathologist will become stars. it was the era of quincy, you know, probably the leading u know, the misleading use of forensic science begins with quincy and extends all the way to csi today. something people onto you. the dentist wanted to get into court and because fun finant witnesses and the struggle to
8:19 am
get bite mark evidence as way to do. it. that this could be used to identify the biter and do for the perpetrator. we could become expert witnesses and we could be in court, solving crimes, pursuing justice and making some money mr. fabricant when did this kind of guild start? >> in 1972 a group of about eight forensic dentist went to a meeting of the american academy of forensic scientists, which is a huge organization that is over 5000 members worldwide, kind of like the aba for lawyers. this is aba for forensic scientists. what they managed to do is establish a forensic section. shoulder to shoulder with fingerprint experts and ecology and all the other leading forensic fields. which gave him an anchor credential. and then they decide they're going to invent something called the american board of forensic
8:20 am
odontology. he never had to approve you could identify bite mark the bite mark your project is memorized the methodology. side we do request how do we take the mold, how do we match and teeth, i can think also evidence that even work. but they will would suck board certified naked get into court and your president of the american board of forensic odontology and board-certified forensic dentist and you're a member of the american academy of forensic scientists, and that's very impressive sounding credentials. so if you're a judge and are considering whether or not you're going to admit expert witness testimony, like a lot of us to look at credentials. oh, the guise of board-certified forensic odontolgist, a member of this organization at that organization. what they did in tlac of the original forensic dentist were lawyers so the new the valley of
8:21 am
president and the found the perfect first case. and from that first case they managed to get into court and then it spread like a virus around the country without any research to back up any of the claims. and about four years after the first bite mark case was use, ted bundy came along. the research that i get into the in the bundy case is i didn't know much about that. of course a new ted bundy was. i read every article that had reported on ted bundy crime spree from seattle we got to the high omega sorority house in florida state university,, committed a series of atrocities. what was mind blowing is a little evidence that ever had against ted bundy, particularly in that crime. there was a terrible identification that was made by a sorority sister i guess you call them at the time. and they under hypnosis because they broke out the hypnosis again, she identified an
8:22 am
employee of someone seeing clean the house right after the crimes. and then went ted money got she change her mind. it was like -- >> i don't know, i think you are good but i don't think you're going to exonerate ted bundy here. >> know, and i'm not suggesting he is innocent. like a broken clock they got ted bundy right. didn't have any fingerprints. they didn't have any other evidence at all but then this injury that look like a bite mark on one of the victims bodies. the sheriff who is investigating the crime was asked about what evidence do you have when you first arrested. nothing he's like that's our problem. and that he mentions on the map bite and said well, this is really bacon i don't think would be very good evidence. that's probably not going to work. by the time you get to trial when this all the evidence that they had he was calling to monday's signature that it left on this crime victim.
8:23 am
then this is a first nationally televised trial in our country's history. and the dentists were the stars because the case rosen fell on bite mark evidence. it's really what they had. the judge himself had called the evidence short when they had moved for a directed verdict when did defensemen for directed verdict. even luckily denied the motion for acquittal because it didn't have much evidence. that became and also because ted bundy famously represent himself. so you had this madman cross-examining a dentist on national tv about whether he had left this bite mark on somebody. it was like johnny depp and amber heard. everybody was going to tune in and they became stars and as a result a lot of people suffered. >> how much do you think this hollywood incentive leaked into it? you have these dentists who are filling crowns back in hometown and now they're getting hbo documentaries made about them. how much of that played into this? >> i have to do quite a bit. if you look at one of become
8:24 am
some the articles i found in this archive, including from magazines that it interviewed, this is ever were people reading for the articles, write? and so did interviews with dentist and he would always be describing them as brilliant and men spent an crime solvers and it was like they were almost like advertising for board middle aged dentist that one to get into something exciting, and exciting you feel. >> to be clear this was pre-talbert. tolbert was a case and the supreme court that lit up the rules for expert testimony should be considered, which i think we both agree with the game changer and has changed whether or not this testimony would be accepted today. were any testimony like that. >> well, i write about that that were decision in the book. what was happening during this era were forensic science become a big deal, so something happening on the civil side of
8:25 am
our legal system was the explosion of personal litigation and class action litigation, the four pandas were taken off the road at the time, and a lot of this like the cottage industry that sprung up to support plaintiff litigation was really speculative and there was a lot of junk science being used to sue corporations and corporations were getting tired of it. there was a lot of righteous litigation but a lot of junk science being used against him as well. with the corporate defense bar one was more rigor brought to the science that was being used in court. so they teed up the tao over case against the supreme court, got there and prior to that the previous 80 years the general rule had been that you defer to the relevant scientific community. it's a generally accepted in the relevant scientific community, then courts will do for the expert to the science and they will admit that evidence. what was really frustrating as that they would to find the
8:26 am
relevant scientific community, for example, forensic dentist, so to ask somebody who's likely depends on the continued admissibility of this technique whether it's generally accepted, the ranch is going to be obvious, write? you run into the problem of self interest, write? so what the supreme court decided is that judges are no longer going to defer to the relevant scientific community. they will have to eat their broccoli and have to actually think about whether or not this is real science with this as junk science, and they sent out a series of like russians to ask that are relayed to foundational principles, is a testable, does it have a hypothesis, these types of, hasn't been peer-reviewed? and it worked. the civil side, judges begin excluding under level evidence the ways never before, empirical evidence demonstrate my boss had done an empirical study about
8:27 am
ten years after that bird that showed it had been working as intended in the civil side but in the criminal side nothing had changed. i did a study with professor brandon garrett in 2018 that showed the same thing even after wrongful conviction did demonstrated how many of these techniques are unreliable and nothing had changed as a result of dapper and this is a theme i explained in the book of poor people scientific the recycler that is because this is a science that were used in the criminal legal system because we don't care enough about who we prosecute in the system to get the science right. i see we have ten minutes. i know we have questions regalis fast. >> with two minutes until the questions. it goes fast. let's talk about the bite marks. love your book is about the bite marks.
8:28 am
do you think a work at all can you ever match bite marks based on the skin on the body? >> no, never. one of the things and this is true with all junk science. junk sites has very strong superficial appeal. you think about bloodletting. bloodletting lasted for thousands of years because people made some and who it is sense that if you cleanse the blood it would cleanse what ails you. nobody thought critically by doing a test to demonstrate whether that was true or not. if you think about bite marks, for example, if you have a deceased person, a body that's been an alleged bite mark on it, that bite mark has changed from the time that was inflicted and have no idea what it was like what shape or what position the body was in at the time, you would like to how much has changed since his first inflicted, write? it's decomposed. it might match one-day and that the next can write? if it is living victim if you. noah's law cross examination that went into this basic issue that would make undermine the
8:29 am
entire field. nobody even thought about that and that's like bravery basic. on the threshold matter, can you identify a bite mark? probably all of you have in your mind right now what a bite mark looks like, write? because you bet kids and they came home from preschool and somebody bit them johnny bit me. you could see all the little teeth. that's never casework. you get photographs and awesome photographs of the bite marks are used in my clients cases in the center of the book to judge for yourself. but you never actually see something that looks like that. i mean in the research that's been done demonstrates a forensic dentist and no better than you and i would be flipping a coin, even a bite mark. so no, it's the junky rest of the junk that i talk about. >> okay. in your books are three main elements of three main junk science is your most focus on, the bite marks, hair microscopy and kind of arson techniques,
8:30 am
techniques used to see if i also went up in flames was lit on fire or if it was an accident. a lot of this comes after delbert and after, there was in 2009 the national academy of science report an investigation into these types of sciences. a lot of this is kind of put to a halt but based on those two prongs. as a prosecutor i just want to put a good word out here for the department of justice, i was a federal prosecutor. my dad was a federal prosecutor my husband was a federal prosecutor. and let me tell you, like the one wants to convict an innocent man come like that would be the worst. that would be the absolute worst thing to have happen. and i think that was shown in 2012 when, after this national academy of sciences did this investigation, james comey joseph then the head of the fbi put a halt to using this type of
8:31 am
science, or put the brakes on it, and also opened up the files to the innocence project, allowed a review of cases that use that kind of evidence and stop any sort of procedural hurdles that the doj could put up. because i mean i would argue that doj has an interest in convicting innocent people either. >> certainly not. my dad was a public defender. i was a public defender. my mom was one of his clients. [laughing] so we are obvious he coming in from very different perspectives. >> that's so romantic. [laughing] >> actually i read about in the book, like the first at the book i'm not a character. in the second half i i reallym and a stored in 2012 right at the same time that this case audit that you're talking about, and to be clear this was in 2012, and at that moment in time that already been at least 72
8:32 am
wrongful convictions associate with the use of hair microscopy, 72. so nothing was done into what happened was that there was a series of wrongful convictions right here in d.c. that public defender service lawyer and sandy left had overturned. there were three men, three black men accused and convicted of assaulting white women that the evidence that was most central to all three convictions was hair microscopy, and it was three different experts all from the bonded fbi crime lab have testified that hair was very probative to the fact they were at the crime scene. all three were innocent, and all three were obviously innocent. and spencer hsu from the "washington post" had relentlessly reported on these men's odysseys through the legal system. and a lot of pressure started to bear on the department of justice and the fbi, and to their credit, to their credit
8:33 am
they honored the duty to correct. they can go since it okay we need to do a case audit. we need to find if there are other victims of this type of junk science out there locked away. and it was, the largest forensic scandal in our nation's history nothing like that it ever happened. there are a couple of audits of comparative analysis and some bad apples but nothing like this it happen. >> because prosecutors have special duty. unlike defense, unlike any other attorney who is out there, prosecutors have duty to justice, a duty to not convict innocent people, a duty to not bring tainted evidence, a duty to try to not use evidence that violates the constitution. so we can't just like go for the win. we have to be also gatekeepers for the evidence that is used. and i think that people like chris and the innocence project
8:34 am
you do a great job of holding all of our feet to the fire pit because we do come at a from different perspectives, and i'm out there trying to make sure that this serial rapist who likes to abduct women and rape them in front of their children, i had a guy who did that, that was his thing, i'm out there like i don't want that guy to do that again to another woman in the community but you are making sure we're getting the right guy and using the right methods. and that is such an important part of our system so thank you for your work, chris. >> thank you. [applause] >> so i've gotten up the signal that we've got about 14 minutes left now for questions from you guys. i'm sure, yes, funniest questions. we'll kind of go down the line here and start with you. >> the microphone. where's the microphone? do we have any water for the speakers? thank you. >> from the bottom of my heart thank you for the work you do and your career. the work of my career is healthcare, some equation was going to be medicine, say
8:35 am
cardiology had to go from being a trade deal to professional society with standards. qualifications. my question was going to be could you do that with forensic odontology? it sounds like the answer is no. >> it's interesting, i draw parallels between medicine and the forensic community writ large in debug because as you probably know i'm sure you know, it wasn't really until the '80s that we started doing evidence-based decision-making in medicine, and there was something called the cochrane report that was very similarly received by the medical community that the national academy of sciences report was received by the forensic science community and 2009. and they were like what the hell are the statisticians getting up in our business? they've never been to a crime scene. they've never lifted a finger print. what could they possibly tell us about our business? my hope is my expectation and my job is, is to get the forensic community to adopt the recommendations of mainstream scientists.
8:36 am
there are very, very significant parallels between them. hankie. it's a great question. >> hello. you briefly touched on hypnosis earlier. i was a big ufo abduction buff when i was a kid, and later in life i met some skeptical literature, you know, like one of the strongest claims in support of abductions was so many people remembered this under hypnosis, and then philip class demonstrated the problems with hypnosis and in particular the one researcher those conducting a lot of these hypnosis sessions already have developed this idea about aliens harvesting genetic material for some experiment, and he unintentionally effect of the people was consulting with. have you seen something analogous in the use of hypnosis in investigations? >> yes. one of the things that all the
8:37 am
lawyers in my department they've a lot of focus on is the size of memory and perception, which that relates to eyewitness identification evidence and other ways the people remembering crimes. and what the science says is that our memories are not like videotapes. you don't just recall them and call it up and a place in your mind. what we recall come every time we recall a memory we're not recalling the memory itself that we're recalling the memory of the memory and it gets a little more corrupted every time. it's easily susceptible to influence and change. and memory that is sought to be like kind and elicited through hypnosis, the only thing this capable of doing his corrupting and memory, supplanting a false memory into it. it doesn't clear for anything and yet it is still used today. i have two clients on row today that hypnosis was used on the witnesses against him. charles flores in texas right now. thank you for your question.
8:38 am
>> hello. i remember reading an article about a detective that was an expert in blood spray patterns, you know, as result of a shooting. have you come across that is something that's been used to convict people? >> oh, yes. blood splatter evidence is in toys and reliable. with a recent study, might've been misdirected to the bloods batter study. -- splatter evidence. it is unreliable. there's a woman in san diego last week was exonerated after 19 19 years in prison partial basin blood splatter evidence. a forensic evidence dennis has taken a case come to. a high school principal texas wrongly convicted of murdering his wife despite being 101 miles away. so it's been used in in a nu,
8:39 am
you know, the amount of education and science that you have to understand including trigonometry and being able to account for things like gravity which you don't account for often in these types of experiments that they do, is the essential problem. so if you the educational background to really and new fluid dynamics and a sophisticated way you could say something about it but the way it is typically used is that a police office was a 40 hour training and then let it rip. >> so in a case where the prosecution only has testimony and misapplied forensic evidence can what is the sort of defense that you would build a case like that? how do you convince the jury that it is ms. applied forensic evidence? >> is really, really difficult to cross examine your way out of junk science conviction.
8:40 am
outside of the original system because trying to suss out since of nonsense during the course of a trial doesn't work. quite a lot about how those failures. layering on top of that is a prime with science literature in the legal community. in our country general. that's true defense lawyers come true for prosecutors, it's true for judges. it's true for juries, right? we are all in their talking with things we don't understand and the lawyers are supposed to be biased on behalf of their side. you take the site, twisted in front of the jury to make a toast or you want to tell and that the problem with junk science because that's the value of it to the people that are using it that it can be used to tell any store you wanted to tell. you've got to upstream fixes. too late once you get to trial. thank you for the question. >> have you seen a difference
8:41 am
between if a corner versus of medical examiner testifies to convict individuals? and one other real quick short question, d.c. i think forensic science what was discredited. are you seeing that around in a bunch of different around the country and does that concern you greatly? >> you will not be surprised to my at the last question are yes, it does concern me. crime lab scandals are lesions. if you go to the innocence project website we attract many of them from d.c. to houston to orange county more recently in california two, you know, the list of crime lab scandals is long. and horrible history there. it's a lack of standards, it's sloppiness, it's underresourced. it's a poor supervision. its lack of standard operating,
8:42 am
a lot of things that go into that. the other question that medical examiners versus coroners, many people don't realize that coroners don't have to have any medical training whatsoever, right? you just got to get elected, right? so michael west one of the most notorious forensic experts i write about in my book was a coroner. so when these were a political entity not a scientist, unit, so this should be testifying as expert in trials at all. so if you have a medical doctor that happens to be a forensic pathologist you're likely to get more reliable opinions. >> chris, is it fair to say that innocence project bullies and dna testing as a gold standard? >> 100%. no organization relies on valid sites more than the innocence project. >> what i seen as doing sex crimes once there was dna, the defense went from it wasn't me, to consent. so that's a lot of the ballot
8:43 am
great and the sex crimes area now from where i sit, right, is we know who it was and then it becomes well, she wanted it. and that is nothing to do with what happened in the science opposite everybody agrees that two people were together. they were intimate, and then a lot of the burden in my view shifts then to the victim,, usually a woman, to prove that she did not want what happened. and i seen that in cases from serial rapists who break into women's homes who never met them before saying no, no, it was all consensual. she wanted it. this is funny because when expression was going, going to be about the fact the now with the dna science, so i'm a scientist and i'm aware of how sometimes easy it is to contaminate with small trace dna assemble, and now i seen a couple of cases where we've gone from exonerating people based on dna to incriminating the wrong person because the trace contamination guinea which wasn't properly investigated. so that kind of scared me
8:44 am
because obviously dna is one of the most science forensic science. what have to sequel to deal with this? do we may be need to train the jury in advance, like you can't be a juror unless you take some classes on basic science? i know it sounds horrible but how do we prevent this manipulation of -- >> you put your finger on a significant issue, probably have seen genotyping software we can detect such tiny amounts of dna now that it becomes paradoxically somewhat less reliable because you assume it's almost it's hard to be excluded. whether that somebody a major contributor or not are when they came into contact with this, so it is easily contaminated so there are issues with that. nonetheless remains the gold standard. what we advocate for is transparency in software and we have to lockboxes open so defense experts have an opportunity to examine the
8:45 am
claims that are being made. this is a problem with using proprietary software and other types of programs in the criminal justice system because corporations on business make money not necessary to advance justice. they are not can be transparent with their proprietary software, they have no business in my view operating in the justice system. i don't think we're going -- >> we have two minutes here. >> on discourse it will never get away with training jurors. you got the last question. >> okay. i think it's a reformulation of the same question, but am i right in thinking that if a particular forensic evidence is not found to be inadmissible, then edger is obligated to consider that as valid? >> no. the jury is, you know, jurors are told this all the time. you are the decider of the facts, right? the problem with like scientific evidence is that it is so
8:46 am
persuasive, but it doesn't have to be. jurors are free to accept or reject any opinion that is offered in trial. >> chris, i wish that more time to talk about this. i had so many more questions i wanted to ask you. your book is fascinating and raises some issues but here's a thing the most important question that i do know from your perspective because we all have an interest in having a fair system. any of us that end up as defendants, any of our friends at end up as victims we all are in this together. what are the things we should be looking at now? what's the bite mark of today? and what can we do to make this a more -- know you have a long list of like a like a mom for everyone? >> we need something like the fda for forensics. we had to do this validation research outside of the adversarial system. we do it for aspirin. you can be sent straight to death row on bite marks. your aspirin will be safe. where to start there. in terms of merging techniques a
8:47 am
lot of like what digital evidence is being used like facial recognition technology and some of the other can of digital technology that are sold to municipalities and the states and their touted for their effectiveness really usually for police resources in particular or something like that but you're seeing them kind of lincoln from investigative techniques to the trials without being a properly validated. it's one thing to get stopped because the shots bladder alerted on a gun or a a gunsh, right, then you didn't have a gun, it's a violation of your fourth amendment rights but it's another thing to bring you into tron say that the was, in fact, a gunshot here because blood splatter said so. we see this misuse of technology that may be appropriate for basic policing but not be appropriate for cases to prove guilt beyond a a reasonable d.
8:48 am
i think investigate techniques leaking into criminal trials, you could name a laundry list of many of them. dog sniff evidence is like this what may be appropriate and cadaver dogs, right, they have these dogs the claimed ability to detect human beings that there's no dna, no evidence, no eyewitnesses and nothing else. this is a dog who comes in. sometimes years later and parks and says there was a human being there, right? so these dogs have been introduced as evidence, have been introduced in trial as evidence not a dead dog, not a dead deer not a bank in but a dead human being within this location because we know because his dog barked, right? which is absurd. i litigated personally litigated a hearing two years ago in colorado with the allowed this evidence in pickets we wanted most significant pieces of evidence in the case. a lot of circumstantial evidence but nothing solid and so they brought this in and got a conviction. that may be, who knows him the
8:49 am
dog bite of an right that time, i have no idea. neither does a dog, neither dog handler. what we do know is that they likely to create more clients for the innocence project going forward. i ask you all to be skeptical. maintain your skepticism and serve on a jury. [applause] >> weekends on c-span2 on intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america stories, and on sundays booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 come from these television companies and more including comcast. >> are you thinking this is thia community center? it's way more than that. >> contessa starting with 1000 committee committees indiscreet wi-fi enabled lift zones so students from low income fans can get the tools they need to be ready for anything. >> comcast, alongit


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on