MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA — When justice hinges on forensic evidence, the science behind it must be flawless. But that is not always the case, according to the editors of the West Virginia Law Review.
Juries often hear testimony on forms of forensic evidence that are not as scientifically sound as DNA testing. This branch of forensics includes hair, bite mark and shoe print comparisons. Add the fabrication of results and improper expert testimony and the outcome of a trial can be a wrongful conviction.
On March 3 and 4, the West Virginia Law Review is holding a symposium at the West Virginia University College of Law to explore the use of flawed forensics in the criminal justice system. Participants include national experts from higher education, the legal community, and advocacy groups.
Admission is free and the public is invited to attend.
“Flawed Forensics and Innocence” begins at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom with an introduction and a screening of “The Syndrome,” a 2014 documentary that exposes the junk science behind shaken baby syndrome. The widely accepted child-abuse theory is responsible for hundreds of prosecutions a year.
Throughout the day on Friday, March 4, experts will explore topics such as the use (and abuse) of forensic science in the courtroom, crime labs and federal oversight, litigating arson, and forensic evidence in pre-trial and post-conviction proceedings.
Author and journalist Radley Balko, who writes about criminal justice and civil liberties for The Washington Post, will speak in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom at 1:15 p.m. on March 4.
“We hope to educate the public and spark meaningful debate in the legal community about the need to make criminal justice reform a priority,” said Ben Hogan, editor-in-chief of the West Virginia Law Review.
For more information about the West Virginia Law Review’s “Flawed Forensics and Innocence” symposium, including an agenda and list of panelists, visit wvlawreview.wvu.edu.
About the West Virginia Law ReviewThe West Virginia Law Review is a professional journal that publishes articles of interest to legal scholars, students, legislators, and members of the practicing Bar. Founded in 1894, it is the fourth oldest student-governed law review in the nation.