Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Continued Attempts To Use Bitemarks As Evidence

The use of Bite Marks as forensic evidence was in some trouble before it became widely attacked. I doubt that it meets the requirements of scientific evidence in any way. Witnesses are under a great deal of fire for using it, even though some of the investigative programs in television seem to still sell it as viable.

However, one commentator says, "He (Michael West) also asserts that he has made 600 dental I.D’s and 300 bite mark I.D.’s. Of the 100 board certified forensic odontologists in the United States, about 90% of them have testified for the opposite side when Dr. West is called as an expert witness.”

There seems to be no such thing as "Board Certified Forensic Odonologists," though the "Board," referred to is not a professional organization like a medical association or bar of attorneys with powers to certify authorized by a state or to remove the ability to practice. If there is a state or federal agency which has requirements outside their own lab for certification and sanctioning, I have yet to discover it.

According to the Chicago Tribune:
"This is the epitome of junk science cloaked as academic research," said Dr. Michael Bowers, a California odontologist and a frequent critic of bite-mark comparisons. "I don't think his claims are supported. The study just doesn't pass muster."

Many of the techniques or their error rates are coming under the microscope of the court system in much the same way as the polygraph did decades ago. This includes DNA.