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Junk Science And The Execution Of An Innocent Man, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2013

Junk Science And The Execution Of An Innocent Man, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

Cameron Todd Willingham was tried and executed for the arson deaths of his three little girls. The expert testimony offered against him to establish arson was junk science.

The case has since become infamous, the subject of an award-winning New Yorker article, numerous newspaper accounts, and several television shows. It also became enmeshed in the death penalty debate and the reelection of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who refused to grant a stay of execution after a noted arson expert submitted a report debunking the “science” offered at Willingham’s trial. The governor then attempted to derail an investigation by the ...


Confrontation, Experts, And Rule 703, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2012

Confrontation, Experts, And Rule 703, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

The United States Supreme Court has decided several cases concerning expert testimony and the Confrontation Clause. This essay argues that confrontation issues are complicated by Federal Evidence Rules 73 and 75, which changed the common law rules. Altering the common law made sense in civil cases because civil rules of procedure provide extensive discovery, which ensures basic fairness. In contrast, discovery in criminal cases is quite limited, which undercuts an accused’s ability to meaningfully confront prosecution experts at trial.


The 2009 Nas Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2012

The 2009 Nas Forensic Science Report: A Literature Review, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

In February 29, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released its report on forensic science: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward (29). The popular press immediately trumpeted the report’s release, with headlines such as (1) “Report Urges Overhaul of Crime Lab System,” (2) “Real-life Police Forensics Don’t Resemble ‘CSI’: Reliability is ‘Low or Non-existent,’ Report Finds” and (3) “Science Found Wanting in Nation’s Crime Labs.”

Within three months of its publication, Justice Scalia cited the report in a Supreme Court decision, writing: “Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation ...


Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis: A Retrospective, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2010

Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis: A Retrospective, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

For over thirty years, FBI experts testified about comparative bullet lead analysis (CBLA), a technique that was first used in the investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination. CBLA compares trace chemicals found in bullets at crime scenes with ammunition found in the possession of a suspect. This technique was used by the FBI when firearms (“ballistics”) identification could not be employed – for example, if the weapon was not recovered or the bullet was too mutilated to compare striations. Although the FBI eventually ceased using CBLA, the Bureau’s conduct in first employing the technique and then defending it after it ...


Adverse Inference About Adverse Inferences: Restructuring Juridical Roles For Responding To Evidence Tampering By Parties To Litigation, Dale A. Nance Jan 2010

Adverse Inference About Adverse Inferences: Restructuring Juridical Roles For Responding To Evidence Tampering By Parties To Litigation, Dale A. Nance

Faculty Publications

For at least two centuries, Anglo-American courts have responded to a party's evidence tampering by allowing the opponent to argue to jurors that they should draw an adverse inference against the offending party in deciding the merits of the case. This Article argues that the use of such inferences, and invitations to draw them, should be radically curtailed, not only because of the ambiguities and risks of prejudice that such inferences entail, but more importantly because they reflect and contribute to a confusion of roles in which the jury is enlisted to participate in the management of the pre-trial ...


Independent Crime Laboratories: The Problem Of Motivational And Cognitive Bias, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2010

Independent Crime Laboratories: The Problem Of Motivational And Cognitive Bias, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

One of the most controversial recommendations in the National Academy of Sciences report on forensic science — Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: The Path Forward — concerns the removal of crime laboratories from the administrative control of law enforcement agencies. For decades scholars have commented on the “inbred bias of crime laboratories affiliated with law enforcement agencies.” Some commentators have proposed independent laboratories as the remedy for this problem, and in 22, the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment proposed the establishment of an independent state crime laboratory. This essay documents the problems that triggered the NAS Report’s ...


Forensic Science: Why No Research?, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2010

Forensic Science: Why No Research?, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

The National Academy of Sciences ground-breaking report on forensic science – Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward – raised numerous issues. One dominant theme that runs throughout the Report is the failure of some forensic science disciplines to comport with fundamental scientific principles – in particular, to support claims with empirical research. The Report observed that “some forensic science disciplines are supported by little rigorous systematic research to validate the discipline’s basic premises and techniques. There is no evident reason why such research cannot be conducted.”

The Report went on to identify fingerprint examinations, firearms (ballistics) and toolmark ...


Scientific Evidence In Criminal Prosecutions - A Retrospective, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2010

Scientific Evidence In Criminal Prosecutions - A Retrospective, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Scientific Fraud, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2010

Scientific Fraud, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

Although scientific fraud is rare, when it occurs, it needs to be identified and documented. This article discusses two of the most notorious cases in forensic science. Part I focuses on the misconduct of Fred Zain, a serologist with the West Virginia State Police crime laboratory and later with the County Medical Examiner’s laboratory in San Antonio, Texas. Part II examines the misconduct of Joyce Gilchrist, a forensic examiner with the Oklahoma City Police Department.


Scientific Evidence And Prosecutorial Misconduct In The Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2009

Scientific Evidence And Prosecutorial Misconduct In The Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

The need for pretrial discovery in criminal cases is critical. A defendant's right to confrontation, effective assistance of counsel, and due process often turns on pretrial disclosure. This essay discusses a case that demonstrates this point.


The Nrc Report And Its Implications For Criminal Litigation, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2009

The Nrc Report And Its Implications For Criminal Litigation, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

The National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a landmark report on forensic science in February 2009. In the long run, the report’s recommendations, if adopted, would benefit law enforcement and prosecutors. The recommendations would allow forensic science to develop a strong scientific basis and limit evidentiary challenges regarding the reliability of forensic evidence. In keeping with its congressional charge, however, the NRC Committee did not directly address admissibility issues. Nevertheless, given its content, the report will inevitably be cited in criminal cases. Indeed, within months, the United States Supreme Court cited the report ...


Pretrial Discovery Of Expert Testimony, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2008

Pretrial Discovery Of Expert Testimony, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Nontestimonial Identification Orders For Dna Testing, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2008

Nontestimonial Identification Orders For Dna Testing, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Tainted Provenance: When, If Ever, Should Torture Evidence Be Admissible, Michael P. Scharf Jan 2008

Tainted Provenance: When, If Ever, Should Torture Evidence Be Admissible, Michael P. Scharf

Faculty Publications

Written by a consultant to the United Nation's newly established Cambodia Genocide Tribunal, "Tainted Provenance" examines one of the most important legal questions that will face the Tribunal as it begins its trials next year -- whether evidence of the Khmer Rouge command structure that came from interrogation sessions at the infamous Tuol Sleng torture facility should be considered notwithstanding the international exclusionary rule for evidence procured by torture. The issue of whether there should be exceptions to the torture evidence exclusionary rule (and how those exceptions should be crafted to avoid abuse) has significant implications beyond the international tribunal ...


Bite Mark Analysis, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2007

Bite Mark Analysis, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

Courts have admitted bite mark comparison evidence in homicide, rape, and child abuse cases. By the 1980s, the technique had gained widespread judicial acceptance. Hundreds of cases have admitted this type of evidence, and no reported case has rejected it. Moreover, some courts speak of bite mark comparison as a "science." Indeed, its acceptance is so well-established that several courts have taken judicial notice of its reliability, implying that the validity of the technique is not subject to reasonable dispute.

Yet, the scientific foundations for bite mark comparisons has never been demonstrated. Such basic issues as the uniqueness of the ...


Daubert Challenges To Firearms (“Ballistics”) Identifications, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2007

Daubert Challenges To Firearms (“Ballistics”) Identifications, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Prosecutors, Ethics, And Expert Witnesses, Paul C. Giannelli, Kevin C. Mcmunigal Jan 2007

Prosecutors, Ethics, And Expert Witnesses, Paul C. Giannelli, Kevin C. Mcmunigal

Faculty Publications

Commentators who have examined the DNA exonerations have noted the disturbing role that prosecutors have played in these wrongful convictions. Another significant contributor to these miscarriages of justice is the misuse of expert testimony, a third of the cases according to some sources. This Article examines the intersection of these two factors - the prosecutor's role in using and presenting expert testimony.

Prosecutorial misconduct may occur during most stages of a trial, beginning with the selection of witnesses, including the improper "shopping" for experts. Additional abuses occur when prosecutors fail to abide by rules governing the pretrial disclosure of scientific ...


Brady And Jailhouse Snitches, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2007

Brady And Jailhouse Snitches, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Wrongful Convictions And Forensic Science: The Need To Regulate Crime Labs, Paul C. Giannelli Mar 2006

Wrongful Convictions And Forensic Science: The Need To Regulate Crime Labs, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

DNA testing has exonerated over 200 convicts, some of whom were on death row. Studies show that a substantial number of these miscarriages of justice involved scientific fraud or junk science. This article documents the failures of crime labs and some forensic techniques, such as microscopic hair comparison and bullet lead analysis. Some cases involved incompetence and sloppy procedures, while others entailed deceit, but the extent of the derelictions - the number of episodes and the duration of some of the abuses, covering decades in several instances - demonstrates that the problems are systemic.

Paradoxically, the most scientifically sound procedure - DNA analysis ...


Using Graphics To Teach Evidence, Kevin C. Mcmunigal Jan 2006

Using Graphics To Teach Evidence, Kevin C. Mcmunigal

Faculty Publications

As an Assistant United States Attorney in the general crimes unit of a metropolitan United States Attorney's Office, I regularly tried a variety of cases ranging from bank robberies and drug offenses to white collar crimes. Regardless of the type of crime, I frequently found various types of graphics useful in presenting the case. Examples included a chart providing a point by point comparison of modus operandi in two armed bank robberies and a map of the scene of a controlled purchase of cocaine showing the locations and movements of multiple defendants, an informant, and federal agents. Such graphics ...


Daubert Challenges To Fingerprints, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2006

Daubert Challenges To Fingerprints, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Ake V. Oklahoma: The Right To Expert Assistance In A Post-Daubert, Post-Dna World, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2004

Ake V. Oklahoma: The Right To Expert Assistance In A Post-Daubert, Post-Dna World, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

Although securing the services of defense experts to examine evidence, to advise counsel, and to testify at trial is frequently critical in modern criminal litigation, it was not until 1985 that the United States Supreme Court in Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985), recognized, for the first time, a constitutional right to expert assistance. In a system in which an overwhelming majority of criminal defendants are indigent, Ake was a landmark case. Nevertheless, the Ake Court could not have anticipated how the advent of DNA evidence would revolutionize forensic science or how the Daubert trilogy would alter the ...


Reliability And The Admissibility Of Experts, Dale A. Nance Jan 2003

Reliability And The Admissibility Of Experts, Dale A. Nance

Faculty Publications

Modern law on expert testimony insists, as a condition of admissibility, that the asserted expertise be determined by the trial judge to be reliable. Reliability is usually characterized as a dichotomous attribute of evidence, as if expertise were either reliable or unreliable. This article argues that making progress in the development of meaningful and appropriate restrictions on the admissibility of expert testimony requires that we abandon this conceptualization and understand the implications of endorsing a gradational notion of reliability in which evidence can be more or less reliable and in which a comparative assessment of reliability is prominent. Consistent with ...


“Other Acts” Evidence: Part Ii, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2001

“Other Acts” Evidence: Part Ii, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Scientific Evidence In Civil And Criminal Cases, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2001

Scientific Evidence In Civil And Criminal Cases, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Character Evidence, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2001

Character Evidence, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Hair Comparison Evidence, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2001

Hair Comparison Evidence, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Naturalized Epistemology And The Critique Of Evidence Theory, Dale A. Nance Jan 2001

Naturalized Epistemology And The Critique Of Evidence Theory, Dale A. Nance

Faculty Publications

In this article I give a mixed review Allen and Leiter’s naturalized epistemology theory of evidence. I applaud their focus on naturalized epistemology, but I question the claims that they argue follow from it. In some ways, my reaction is that they have not gone far enough in pressing its implications, and I attempt to suggest how further progress might be made along this path. On the whole, I conclude that the antipathy toward algrithms expressed by Allen and Leiter is misplaced.


Are Prosecutorial Ethics Standards Different?, Kevin C. Mcmunigal Jan 2000

Are Prosecutorial Ethics Standards Different?, Kevin C. Mcmunigal

Faculty Publications

Once a prosecutor determines to employ an expert, a number of distinct decisions must be confronted-from choosing the expert, to complying with discovery obligations, to presenting the testimony at trial. Part I of this essay considers the selection of experts. Although improper selection of experts can be viewed as merely another aspect of presenting misleading testimony, we treat it separately in this essay because the literature typically ignores it. Part 1I examines the pretrial disclosure of scientific evidence. The issues that have arisen in this context include late disclosure, omitting information from laboratory reports, declining to have a report prepared ...


New Developments In Scientific Evidence, Paul C. Giannelli Jan 2000

New Developments In Scientific Evidence, Paul C. Giannelli

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.