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Forensic Testimony

By: , Posted on: October 4, 2013

Expert witness books tend to be dry and strictly formulative in style. Most provide lists of evidence rules (in mind-numbing legalese) and tips about being clever and convincing in court. You won’t find much of that in Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Forensic Evidence.

his book focuses on the responsibilities of witnesses going into courts to speak on their forensic technical expertise and analyses. Forensic Testimony does have a broad view of legal terms and vocabulary available as a glossary, but each of the 12 chapters take on the hard subjects present in today’s cases, courtrooms, and news media. Information regarding “junk” versus “established or validated” forensic subjects. These topics are sharply discussed and cover subjects such as forensic fraud, forensic negligence, and incompetence. So expect the “good” with the “bad” as this book shows why the NAS 2009 report of “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States” has been singularly ignored by most forensic practitioner groups. This is a true failure of effect never seen in the history of the National Research Council researchers of the NAS (formed in 1916 to provide independent scientific advice for the US government). Full documentation of failures of individual experts and some less than scientifically validated forensics are compared to proper conduct, attitude and presentation of actual “scientific data” versus personal opinion. The fallacy in forensic circles that “it’s not real science but we still do good work” is thrown against cases of criminal exonerations after erroneous convictions aided by misguided forensic experts and their “court-accepted” but “not so validated” methods.

In closing, Forensic Testimony should be an eye-opener for students studying criminal justice and forensic science. The old-guard forensic experts (and their progeny) are well described as they continue to preach their self-righteous claims of 100% accuracy and service to their communities as a substitute for proper validation. Prosecution lawyers and their opponents in the Criminal Defense bar will learn about how wrongful convictions are occurring throughout the US justice system when bad forensics or overreaching forensic experts participate in courts. Judges interested in education and legal research should find the book stimulating with its content of case-based critique of expert witnesses calling themselves “scientists” but lacking a grasp of the scientific method as support.

About Michael Bowers:

Michael BowersC. Michael Bowers, DDS, JD is a practicing forensic dentist and consultant who has testified and worked on hundreds of cases where dental evidence has been involved. He is a Senior Crime Scene Analyst for the International Association for Identification (IAI) and has written other articles, chapters and books on forensic dentistry. He owns and operates his own dental practice in Ventura, CA.  Additionally, he is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Forensic Sciences. He is author of Forensic Dental Evidence, published by Elsevier’s Academic Press in 2010, and his new book, Forensic Testimony: Science, Law and Expert Evidence will be published in October 2013.

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Forensic Sciences

Forensic science is a key component of criminal investigation and civil law worldwide. This broad-based field ranges over topics as varied as DNA typing, osteology, neuropathology, psychology, crime scene photography, ballistics, criminal profiling, and more. Elsevier provides forensics publications that cover all these topics, written by top authorities, to students, professors, researchers, and professionals.