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Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Evidence

Law Enforcement and Corrections

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If The Shoe Fits They Might Acquit: The Value Of Forensic Science Testimony, Jonathan Koehler Jan 2011

If The Shoe Fits They Might Acquit: The Value Of Forensic Science Testimony, Jonathan Koehler

Faculty Working Papers

The probative value of forensic science evidence (such as a shoeprint) varies widely depending on how the evidence and hypothesis of interest is characterized. This paper uses a likelihood ratio (LR) approach to identify the probative value of forensic science evidence. It argues that the "evidence" component should be characterized as a "reported match," and that the hypothesis component should be characterized as "the matching person or object is the source of the crime scene sample." This characterization of the LR forces examiners to incorporate risks from sample mix-ups and examiner error into their match statistics. But how will legal ...