Many people have spent time watching some of the popular crime dramas on TV such as Law and Order, CSI, and NCIS. These are entertaining shows that often portray the science used as evidence in courtrooms as the judge, jury, and executioner in court cases.
If the science says that someone is either guilty or innocent, this would seem to be the final verdict. However, everything in a court case is up for debate and should be analyzed critically. Some of the science that is used as evidence in criminal cases is not actually very scientific. In fact, it is more appropriately called "junk science."
Recently, a report was published by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. This report explained in a powerful way that much of the evidence and testimony from "experts" based on forensic methods has not actually been validated by authorities in the field. While this doesn't mean all of the science is inaccurate, it does mean that it should not be used in criminal cases until it has been fully vetted and peer reviewed. This is because the stakes in criminal cases are high. Nobody should have their fate decided by science that hasn't been tested and proven as reliable.
This isn't the only report to come out recently questioning the validity of forensic evidence. Recently, there was an influential report published by the Innocence Project and the FBI that analyzed testimony from forensic examiners that specialized in hair. They found flaws in over 95 percent of the testimony and evidence. They also analyzed the evidence surrounding bite-mark analysis and other examples of forensics and found that many cases using this evidence have led to exoneration (after wrongful conviction).
Not all evidence used in criminal cases is as solid as it appears on the surface. Even forensic evidence that is backed by the testimony of experts deserves to be analyzed and questioned to the fullest extent. To ensure this happens, people facing criminal charges should rely on the services of a defense attorney who can fully explore the techniques used to produce the evidence. This will ensure that the accused person receives the vigorous defense that they are entitled to.