Wednesday, October 14, 2009




A "questioned" document is any signature, handwriting, typewriting, or other mark whose source or authenticity is in dispute or doubtful. Letters, checks, driver licenses, contracts, wills, voter registrations, passports, petitions, threatening letters, suicide notes, and lottery tickets are the most common questioned documents, although marks on doors, walls, windows, or boards would also be included by definition.
QDE, or Questioned Document Examination, has been a profession at least since 1870, and frequently is found in cases of forgery, counterfeiting, mail fraud, kidnapping, con games, embezzlement, gambling, organized crime, white collar crime, art crime, theft, robbery, arson, burglary, homicide, serial murder, psychological profiling, and deviant sex crime. A number of famous cases over the years, some involving wrongful conviction -- the Dreyfus affair; Bruno Hauptmann and the Lindbergh Kidnapping; the Hitler Diary profiling controversy; and Clifford Irving's forgery of Howard Hughes signature and Mormon documents -- were showcases for the talents of various experts at QDE. It's strength, drawn from civil law, is that expert opinion can overturn (alleged) eyewitness opinion. SOME FAMOUS FORGERS & FORGERIES
Major George Byron (Lord Byron forgeries)
Thomas Chatterton (Literary forgeries)
John Payne Collier (Printed forgeries)
Dorman David (Texas Dec. of Independence)
Mark Hofmann (Mormon, Freemason forgeries)
William Henry Ireland (Shakespeare forgeries)
Clifford Irving (Howard Hughes forgery)
Konrad Kujau (Hitler Diaries)
James Macpherson (Ossian manuscript)
George Psalmanasar (Literary forgery)
Alexander Howland Smith (historical documents)
Thomas James Wise (Printed forgeries)
Unknown (Documentary Photos Billy-the-Kid)
Numerous (Biblical forgeries)

Historically, QDE has been somewhat of an inclusive profession, even to the point where so-called pseudo-experts (in palmistry and fortune-telling) were sometimes welcome, and even today, it suffers from a bit of identity crisis in that at least eight (8) different, or related, areas can be identified:


Questioned Document Examiners -- A document examiner analyzes any questioned document and is capable of more than just questions of authorship limited only by their access to laboratory equipment

Historical Dating -- These is work involving the verification of age and worth of a document or object, sometimes done by a document examiner, and can get as complicated as Carbon-14 dating

Fraud Investigators -- This is work that often overlaps with that of the document examiner and focuses on the money trail and criminal intent

Paper & Ink Specialists -- These are public or private experts who date, type, source, and/or catalogue various types of paper, watermarks, ink, printing/copy/fax machines, computer cartridges, etc., using chemical methods

Forgery Specialists -- These are public or private experts who analyze altered, obliterated, changed, or doctored documents and photos using infrared lighting, expensive spectrography equipment, or digital enhancement techniques

Handwriting Analysts -- These are usually psychology experts who assess personality traits from handwriting samples, also called graphologists or graphoanalysts; Forensic stylistics refers to the same purpose but by looking at semantics, spelling, word choice, syntax, and phraseology.

Typewriting Analysts -- These are experts on the origin, make, and model used in typewritten material

Computer Crime Investigators -- This is an emerging group that relates to QDE through some common investigative and testimonial procedures

It's probably a futile effort to rigidly demarcate and delimit the various areas of QDE as there will always be overlap, evolution, and, perhaps, controversy.



One of the things important to understand is what the QDE expert is looking for. This deals with the issue of class characteristics versus individual characteristics.

In a nutshell, CLASS characteristics, which are commonly found at crime scenes, describe evidence which can only be associated with a group (like those with certain personality traits) and not a single source. Such evidence can only be used for corroboration or circumstantial purposes, and the evidentiary problem lies in the fact that little or no mathematical models exist to assess probability values with the comparison of class evidence. The expert must say things like "relatively certain" instead of things like "95% of the time" or "an odds-ratio of 300:1". INDIVIDUAL characteristics describe evidence that is associated with a common source and an extremely high level of probability. It's not so much that the evidence points directly at anything or anyone; it's that it draws an inevitable conclusion based on mathematical calculations or probabilities so high as to defy human comprehension while at the same time substantiated by the opinion of a scientific expert.



Among QDE experts, the use is made of many different scientific principles from a variety of disciplines, and one of the first attempts at basic principles appeared in Albert Osborn's Questioned Documents in 1910, grounded in handwriting comparison as evidence of individual characteristics (paraphrased below):

1. The most identifying characteristics are those which are most divergent from the regular system or national average
2. Repeated characteristics which are inconspicuous should be sought first and given the most weight
3. Regular or national system similarities are not alone sufficient to base judgments.
4. It is the combination of particulars, common and uncommon, that identifies
5. It is impossible to discover how all strange and peculiar characteristics came to be developed
6. People do wholly unaccountable things in their speech, gestures, and writing
7. An individual characteristic may be the survival of an error overlooked by a teacher
8. Many characteristics are outgrowths or copies of an at one time admired design

The psychological theory of handwriting comparison is developmental. Children learn to write by copying whatever style of writing is fashionable at the time and taught to them by teachers from textbooks. This style is known as the regular or national system, and for most of the twentieth century, it was either the Palmer system or the Zaner-Blosser system for cursive. Today, there are many systems, or no system. As the child grows, the act of writing becomes a subconscious effort and begins to pick up habitual shapes and patterns that distinguish it from all others. This is most evident with capital letters and numerals. Handwriting has individual characteristics due to it being largely unconscious behavior. The unconscious handwriting of two different individuals is never identical. Mechanical and physical factors, as well as the mental ones, make it highly unlikely that the exact same handwriting occurs in two different people. It's therefore important that samples, exemplars, or specimens (all synonymous terms for documents of known origin) be obtained under conditions as similar as possible to the conditions present at the time the disputed, doubtful, or original (all synonymous terms for questioned documents) was created. These conditions are an essential part of what are called standards of comparison:


Care must be taken to avoid samples which are deliberately written in a crude, unnatural way, or so well thought out as to disguise the writer's natural style

A sufficient number of samples must be taken, several pages if necessary, over and over again, to establish multiple (more than one) comparisons of single characteristics or combinations of common and uncommon characteristics

Samples should be taken within two or three years of the disputed writing in order to rule out changes in style that may have occurred over time or with age

The sample should include some dictated text, words, or phrases contained in the original document (but under no circumstances should the writer be shown the questioned document)

Pen and paper, as well as writing position, should consist of the same conditions that existed at the time the questioned document was written (if these facts are known)



Legally, the conditions in place that produced the specimen serve to authenticate it as a standard. Authentication, or positively establishing the origin of known documents, is required for any piece of documentary evidence. This can be accomplished by the testimony of witnesses who saw the original writing produced, by the testimony of persons familiar with the writing, or (in some states) by a post litem motam courtroom demonstration where the writer gives a sample which is checked within an hour to a day or more by a QDE expert. Technically, even the police could extract authenticated samples since neither Fourth nor Fifth Amendment rights apply to handwriting samples. In addition, some samples are self-authenticating -- as in any writing on legal forms, business correspondence, responses to communication from others, and some "ancient" documents (over 30 years old). Irregularities in the authentication (or discovery) process of a handwriting case are NOT grounds for reversible error. The accused may get a new trial, but they are not exculpated or found innocent by most courtroom errors. Refusal by the accused to give a handwriting sample is presumptive evidence of guilt. There's no right to remain silent when it comes to handwriting.

A potential problem exists with signatures. People usually have three (3) different signatures: (1) a formal one, used on important documents; (2) a routine one, used on regular correspondence; and (3) an informal one, used for jotting quick notes. Also, other circumstances affect writing such as age, arthritis, emotional distress, medication, intoxication, and corrective vision. It's difficult to tell handedness, gender, and age from unknown samples. QDE experts must consider all these things, and make an informed judgement (usually in consultation with an investigator or attorney) based on their familiarity with handwriting dynamics (e.g., appearance, laborious movements, rhythm). With an impairment like arthritis, for example, the writing function may become more of a conscious than subconscious effort, making for a more complex case. However, a paraphrasing of Larry Miller's (1987) indicia drawn from a review of the forgery literature might provide useful guidelines when dealing with impaired or deliberately deceptive writing:

Line Quality Irregular, laborious, shaky, lack of rhythm
Size/Proportion Larger, wider, higher, inconsistent, different spacing after caps
Pen lifts Frequent lifts off paper
Angle/Slant Greater than 5 degree change, other-hand slanting
Pen Pressure Heavier than usual
Circle formation More teardrop or egg-shaped, frequent counterclockwise formations
Retouching formal signature used, often retracing strokes, foreign marks present
Loop formation Wider spacing between, more squared, shorter, or broken loops
Stroke formation Wider M's and W's, more squared or wedge-shaped stokes
Alignment Change in baseline habits, more downward slants from baseline
Diacritics Heavier t-crossings and i-dots, position placement changes
Begin/end strokes Heavier pressure, blobbed, vertical position change or slanting

Problems get stickier when trying to draw personality inferences from handwriting samples. Remember this is the realm of graphology, but it might be interesting to look at a few traits of interest to criminal justice and criminology. With that in mind, here's a small, academic fair use sample of the Trait Dictionary from Bart Bagget's Be advised that these are not definitive interpretations by any means because there are over 30 different "systems" of graphology in existence.

Graphology systems tend to be one of three (3) types: (1) those based on individual letter formations; (2) those based on stroke analysis; and (3) those based on an holistic/gestalt method. Over 3000 private business companies use it routinely (to screen employees), and it enjoys a growing sense of scientific respectability. The courts appear to be waiting to see college psychology courses on it. It probably has the most validity with the following domains: (1) intelligence; (2) attitude toward work; and (3) interpersonal skills. Recent developments have focused on "profiling" of uncaptured criminals and sex offenders (where handwriting analysts say they can spot a "perversion", not exactly the best word for it).

There's some precedent in art therapy and projective psychological testing for graphology. Many convictions of child sex offenders have occurred because of what the child victim portrayed in a drawing, and with psychological testing, there's the famous "Draw a Pig" assignment, which apparently contains everything you need to make a subjective personality assessment from: where placed on paper; the size of the pig; the pressure applied; the direction the pig is facing; attention to details; line quality; angular or curved strokes; and emphasis on head of pig. GO TO TOP

There's quite a bit of divergent terminology found in court testimony. The most common "conclusions" are really qualified opinions. Although the science of QDE has its origins in Bertillon's points of comparison method, there's no set standard, such as 11 or 12 "matches" as with fingerprinting. Instead, it's up to each expert to say what constitutes a sufficient number. The most commonly used phrases are "significant similarities", "most probably", or "very probably". An expert opinion need not be based on absolute certainty. A QDE expert can expect to be on the stand a long time, as direct, cross, redirect, and recross trial procedures play out. The background and integrity of the expert as well as the quality of the evidence determines both admissibility and impact.

Court-recognized expertise as a QDE expert is not something that can be achieved through self-study alone. An old common law rule that isn't recognized much anymore says that one can become an expert by study without practice or by practice without study. With QDE, the courts (State v. Evans 1991) have decided that a person needs both: study and practice -- that is, a period of training (internshiip or apprenticeship is better than a self-study course) and a period of experience (twenty some previous cases worked on is a good average). In addition, there's a rather large literature base to become familiar with, and a good number of journals, periodicals and newsletters.



Computer forensics is used in many areas. In civil law for discrimination and harassment cases, by insurance companies for workman's compensation cases, by corporations for trade secret misappropriations, and in criminal law mostly for drug and embezzlement record-keeping and child pornography. As mentioned previously, this is a loosely related, developing specialty area. It is most closely related to typewriting comparison. The FBI has, for many years, maintained typewriter databases, ink databases, copy toner databases, paper databases, and watermarks (which sometimes change every year). Private examiners do not have the advantage of large databases available to government examiners. Computers and computer printouts also leave a trail that can be followed, whether it's from something simple like how full or dry a printer ink cartridge is, to the various alignments and misalignments of dot matrix and laser printers, to fiber analysis of the paper used, computer crime specialists utilize some of the same age-old techniques that typewriting analysts used as well as other investigative methods.

A computer forensics expert will have experience on a wide variety of hardware and software. Unlike paper evidence, computer evidence exists in many forms, with earlier, alternate, and backup versions of each and every file somewhere on the hard drive and frequently unknown to the user. The process of examining a suspect computer system is as follows:


Secure/protect the system from further use, damage, or corruption

Discover all files, including hidden and encrypted ones

Recover all (or as many as possible) deleted files

Reveal all hidden, temporary, and swap files

Access all protected or encrypted files

Analyze all unallocated or "slack" spaces on a disk

Print out an overall analysis of the system, listing all files

Formulate an opinion of the system layout, file structure, and any attempts to hide, delete, protect, or encrypt information



Forensic Science and the Death Penalty


Forensic Science and the Death Penalty: Why Reform is Needed in the Forensic Science Community to Ensure that the Innocent Are Not Erroneously Sentenced to Death

Craig M. Cooley, M.S.[1]

“[T]he golden thread which runs through the web of administration of justice in criminal cases is that if two views are possible on the evidence, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the view which is favorable to the accused should be adopted.”[2]

“[S]killed witnesses come with such bias in their minds to support the case in which they are embarked that hardly any weight should be given to their evidence.”[3]

“A bald assertion by the expert that his deduction is premised upon well-recognized scientific principles is inadequate to establish its admissibility if the witness's application of these principles is untested and lacks indicia of acceptability”[4]

“Forensic science has rarely been subjected to the kind of scrutiny and independent verification applied to other fields of applied and medical science. Instead, analysts testifying in courts about fingerprint analysis, bite marks, handwriting comparisons and the like have often argued that in their field the courtroom itself provided the test.”[5]

“And hair strands yielded a kind of double proof that Albert Brown was a murderer: His hairs were linked to the victim, and the victim's hairs were linked to him… In each case, the forensic evidence was conclusive - and in each case, the science was dead wrong.”[6]

“Everyone connected with the justice system expects forensic science to be infallible. It is not.”[7]

“Forensic science, including DNA testing, is operating in a noman’s land where there are no accredited standards for the laboratories…”[8]

“Is [death investigation] an enlightened system? No, its not. It’s really no better than what they have in many Third World countries.”[9]

I. Introduction

In February 1900, William Broughton was convicted of mailing an obscene letter to Nash R. Boyles, the City Recorder of Atlanta.[10] The prosecution’s strongest evidence against Mr. Broughton came from an alleged handwriting expert named, Nash R. Boyles, the same Mr. Boyles who received the ‘obscene’ letter. At trial, Mr. Boyles not only appeared as a witness but also qualified as a handwriting expert. Mr. Boyles claimed an expertise simply because “a number of cases involving handwriting had come before him when he was the United States Commissioner in Atlanta.”[11] Mr. Boyles “was able to inform the jury that there were incriminating an unmistakable similarities between the writing in the letter he had received and [a] note Broughton sent to his mother.”[12] Moreover, Mr. Broyles testified that he “could explain [any dissimilarities] by the fact that the defendant was a ‘very sharp, intelligent [individual] and he knew what he was arrested for and he was trying to disguise his handwriting.’”[13] Mr. Broyle’s testimony was supported by two additional experts.[14] Surprisingly, not long after Mr. Broughton was convicted, Mr. Boyles received another obscene letter. As Mr. Broyles read the letter “[i]t appeared to him that the similarity in handwriting that convicted Broughton was as nothing compared to the likeness between the chirography in the obscene letter and in the [other] letters.”[15] Another individual eventually confessed to authoring and sending the obscene letters. To put it bluntly, the government’s handwriting experts got it wrong.

In May of 1989, Rickey Ross, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy, was arrested for soliciting and accompanying a prostitute.[16] The year prior to Ross’s arrest, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigated three prostitute killings. In each case, the prostitutes were shot with a handgun. As a result, immediately after placing Deputy Ross under arrest the LAPD crime laboratory conducted firearm examinations to ascertain whether Deputy Ross’s firearm was linked to the prostitute killings. Approximately twelve hours after Deputy Ross was arrested the LAPD’s lab results linked his firearm to the bullets that had killed the three prostitutes. Unfortunately for the LAPD’s crime lab, after an independent firearms expert re-examined the evidence he discovered “incredible incompetence and/or wishful thinking”[17] on the part of the crime lab examiners. When the independent expert’s conclusions were confirmed by another independent examiner, the Los Angeles County’s District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against Deputy Ross. Once again, the government’s firearms examiner got it wrong.

In May 1991 eleven year old, Molly M[18] was home alone after the last day of school. Around 10:30 a.m. a man appeared at Molly’s back door claiming he was there to do some yard work. When Molly turned to look at the clock to see what time her parents were expected home the man entered and pounced on Molly. The intruder carried Molly down into the basement and proceeded to rape and assault her for roughly thirty minutes. The Tulsa police investigation went cold quickly. After ten weeks no solids leads surfaced. Then, in January 1992 Tulsa police arrested Timothy Durham, a recovering drug and alcohol user with a record of petty crimes. The district attorney’s office proceeded with the prosecution against Mr. Durham even though at least eleven witnesses could put him in Dallas, more than three hundred miles away, around the time of the attack. The prosecution went forward since, according to the district attorney’s office, it could be proved scientifically, via forensic hair analysis, that Mr. Durham was, in fact, Molly M’s assailant.

The hair technician’s testimony fell well short of science when she described a unique straightening characteristic in one of the Caucasoid head hairs she examined. To the examiner’s [and prosecution’s] delight, Mr. Durham’s head hair exhibited the same straightening characteristic. During direct examination, the technician testified that she had never had an occurrence like this before when examining Caucasoid hair—implying that the unknown hair and Mr. Durham’s matched. During cross-examination, the technician noted that no journal articles or research existed regarding the unique straightening characteristic identified by her. For all the examiner knew, the straightening characteristic could have been triggered by the humidity in the lab where the examination took place. Not surprisingly, the jury could not dismiss such testimony cloaked in science even though nearly a dozen witnesses placed Mr. Durham in Dallas at the time of the attack. As a result, the jury convicted Mr. Durham and sentenced him to 3320 years.[19] Thanks to the Innocence Project of Cardozo Law School, however, Mr. Durham’s DNA was re-tested and the results conclusively excluded him as the source of the sperm.[20] Once again, forensic science got it wrong.

“One of the cornerstones of forensic science is the presumed validity and reliability of scientific test results and interpretations.”[21] This presumption must now be viewed through a more cautious lens since the aforementioned cases represent only a few of the ever-growing number where erroneous [honest mistakes] or fraudulent [purposeful errors] forensic science has led to miscarriages of justice.[22] In particular, the forensic identification sciences (e.g., handwriting analysis, firearms identification, hair analysis, ect.) are primarily responsible for the bulk of these injustices. According to Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld,[23] out of eighty-one wrongful convictions fifty-three percent were primarily the result of erroneous forensic science.[24] Moreover, twenty-five percent of the erroneous convictions were attributed to “fraudulent and/or tainted evidence.”[25] More recently, Saks et al. assert that forensic science errors were a contributing factor in at least sixty-six percent of the erroneous convictions they identified.[26] Additionally, fraud or tainting of evidence was a contributory factor in at least thirty one percent of the wrongful convictions identified by them.[27] This research suggests that forensic science may exceed eyewitness inaccuracy as the foremost cause of wrongful convictions. Consequently, Justice Brennan’s comment in United States v. Wade[28] that “[t]he vagaries of eyewitness identification are well known; the annals of criminal law are rife with instances of mistaken identification”[29] can now be extrapolated to the forensic sciences. Likewise, with these statistics it could be reasonably argued that “[f]rom the viewpoint of conventional science, the forensic identification sciences are contenders for being the shoddiest science offered to the courts.”[30]

While erroneous convictions of any sort are an injustice, no adjective can be employed to adequately describe the injustice of being wrongly convicted of a capital offense and sentenced to death. Justice Brennan’s opinion in Furman v. Georgia[31] captures this sentiment:

“Death is truly an awesome punishment. The calculated killing of a human being by the State involves, by its very nature, a denial of the executed person’s dignity. The contrast with the plight of a person punished by imprisonment is evident. An individual in prison does not lose ‘the right to have rights.’… His punishment is not irrevocable. Apart from the common charge, grounded upon the recognition of human fallibility, that the punishment of death must inevitably be inflicted upon innocent men, we know that death has been the lot of men whose convictions were unconstitutionally secured in view of later, retroactively applied holdings of this Court. The punishment itself may have been unconstitutionally inflicted, yet the finality of death precludes relief. An executed person has indeed ‘lost the right to have rights.’”[32]

Since the irrevocability of death prohibits any liberation for the wrongly convicted, the criminal justice system is required to employ the most reliable and valid means possible when attempting to secure a death sentence. Forensic science is one of the primary means by which the criminal justice system attempts to establish its case for death against the defendant.[33] As the aforementioned cases illustrate and as this Article will demonstrate, forensic identification evidence is often fraught with error,[34] bias[35] and subjectivity.[36] It will also be argued that traditional forensic fields such as fingerprints, questioned documents, toolmark identification, handwriting identification and hair/fiber analysis are not based on science, but rather on subjective comparisons by individual examiners.[37] While physical evidence by itself cannot be erroneous, its subjective interpretation can produce errors, which in turn can result in the ultimate injustice.[38]

This is particularly troubling given that the death penalty system throughout the country and the world already appears to be “broken”[39] in several areas.[40] So broken that Illinois’ Governor pronounced a moratorium on executions in January of 2000;[41] the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association (ABA), in February 1997, overwhelmingly adopted a report from its section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities and went on record as being officially opposed to America’s existing system of capital punishment, calling for an immediate moratorium on executions;[42] the Nebraska Legislature approved a moratorium on executions so that an all-inclusive study of the state’s death penalty system could be conducted;[43] thirty-seven of thirty-eight death penalty states (all but Kansas) contemplated legislation to reform and curb the use of the death penalty—at least one such modification became law in twenty-one of those states;[44] Maryland’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, imposed its own moratorium on the death penalty;[45] the Virginia Legislature and Governor agreed on “a major overhaul of the state’s death-penalty laws, giving those on death row the right to seek new DNA testing.”;[46] at least twenty-two states[47] across the country have enacted legislation making it possible for capital prisoners to acquire post-conviction DNA testing;[48] and the Secretary General of the United Nations called for a worldwide moratorium on December 18, 2000, after receiving a petition signed by 3.2 million people.[49] The capital system’s numerous and well documented failures have even prompted well-known death penalty proponents to express reservations about the reliability of, and, in certain instances, the ongoing necessity for the death penalty.[50] Following the lead of these proponents, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the unparalleled measure of supporting a moratorium on executions.[51] Not soon thereafter, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a long-time advocate of capital punishment, commented, “If statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed.”[52] The late Justice Blackmun went even further and conceded that he felt “morally and intellectually obligated… to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.”[53] Consequently, “[w]e are witnessing today a true crisis of confidence in the death penalty in the United States… [t]he evidence of trouble is everywhere.”[54] The lack of confidence regarding capital punishment may, in fact, be stronger since the September 11th terrorists attacks.[55]

While “[t]he politics of the death penalty are clearly changing… because of the blunders of the system,”[56] capital jurisprudence throughout the United States is still severally fractured. Numerous commentators have discussed different means by which to rehabilitate the death penalty process.[57] Many of these recommendations concern reforming the constitutional parameters of criminal procedure;[58] enhancing the defense bar standards;[59] educating rural county judges on common practices in capital cases;[60] allocating more funds to defend capital cases;[61] forming ‘innocence’ commissions or panels to study why exonerated defendants are found guilty in the first place;[62] excluding the death penalty in the presence of lingering doubt;[63] or enacting laws limiting capital punishment to cases where guilt is demonstrated to an “actual certainty” and not just “beyond a reasonable doubt.”[64] Likewise, legislative proposals by Congress have turned to science and technology in hopes of preventing wrongful executions.[65] While these reforms and proposals are necessary and essential for the preservation of justice and liberty, they do not address the structural and regulatory inadequacies that exist in the forensic science community.[66] The Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act of 2000, while a significant step in the right direction, still fails to address (a) the ‘conflicts of interest’ that exist within the forensic community and (b) the regulatory inadequacies of the community.

As currently organized and structured, the forensic science community is bound to generate more erroneous, fraudulent and shoddy science, which in turn will produce further erroneous capital and non-capital convictions.[67] As one report noted, “many forensic scientists face a critical deficiency of essential reference material and collections required to perform their jobs.”[68] Educationally, funding for graduate-level forensic science research is “[c]urrently… nonexistent.”[69] Similarly, lack of funding has led to “chronic understaffing” in many of the Nation’s crime labs.[70] In terms of quality assurance, “[c]riminal forensics laboratories are a generation behind food, drug, medical and industrial laboratories in their quality assurance systems.”[71] Likewise, “[a]t present, there are no national standards ensuring the competency of laboratory examiners.”[72] Adding to the problem is that “[i]n many cases, labs are managed by law-enforcement officials who have no experience with science.”[73] In regard to laboratory standards, “forensic science is virtually unregulated… with the paradoxical result that clinical laboratories must meet higher standards to be allowed to diagnose strep throat than forensic labs must meet to put a defendant on death row.”[74] Fewer than half of the country’s 400 to 450 forensics labs are accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors [ASCLAD].[75] Only New York State requires such accreditation.[76] Most importantly, “[t]oo many [forensic] experts in the criminal justice system manifest a police-prosecution bias, a willingness to shade or distort opinions to support the state’s case.”[77]

A handful of possible reasons exist why forensic science plays such a significant part in the in the production of wrongful convictions. These include, but are not limited to: employees, protocols and procedures that are predisposed to discovering inculpatory evidence—or at least of avoiding exculpatory conclusions;[78] forensic sciences that essentially lack any scientific basis;[79] testimony that exaggerates the capabilities of methods and the probativeness of findings;[80] and experts being available to only one side of the adversary contest.

As one legal scholar noted, “The urgent need to legislate for [forensic] scientific standards is apparent to many.”[81] Consequently, the author is optimistic that this Article will prompt critical deliberations regarding the unregulated vocation of forensic science. These discussions, in turn, will [hopefully] initiate forensic science regulatory legislation—similar to the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act of 2000. Specifically, this Article focuses on remedying the procedural, regulatory, educational and organizational inadequacies of the forensic science community in order to rehabilitate the death penalty process. These remedies include: altering the education, training and competency standards for the forensic practitioner;[82] conducting proactive rather than reactive research;[83] standardizing forensic protocols so that two forensic practitioners can evaluate evidence under the same conditions;[84] and creating independent crime laboratories which are not connected, controlled or influenced by the prosecutorial powers of the state.[85] As Inman and Rudin note:

“Valid, proven analytical techniques and thoughtful interpretation are obviously essential to a competent analysis; the proper education, training, and certification of forensic analysts and independent reviewers, accreditation of laboratories and the maintenance of high standards, implementation of proper quality control and quality assurance protocols, and internal and external review procedures are no less critical to the output of a high quality forensic work product.”[86]

Consequently, the ultimate goal of these reforms parallels that of Saks et al., in that “[t]he goal is to reduce the adversary influences on, and emphasize science in, forensic science.”[87]

Additionally, since the “law does little to regulate the quality of expert testimony and professionalism of forensic scientists,”[88] legal remedies regarding the adversarial employment of scientific evidence will be discussed. These remedies include, but are not limited to: mandating that newly amended Federal Rules of Evidence [FRE] 702 [or a state rule fashioned after FRE 702] be the threshold for expert testimony in all capital cases; ensuring defense counsel has access to competent forensic experts;[89] mandating that prosecutors who wish to introduce scientific evidence should be required to disclose all underlying documentation used to construct a final report;[90] expanding pretrial discovery of expert testimony;[91] increasing the educational opportunities for lawyers to become aware of the capabilities and limits of forensic science;[92] and requiring that every public defender office have at least one attorney who acts as a full time forensic science specialist, assisting other attorneys with their cases.

The author’s definitive goal regarding the aforementioned forensic and legal reforms, once again, mirrors that of Saks et al., in that the “goal of these reforms is to reduce the probability of… erroneous [capital] convictions, without reducing the probability of a correct conviction. That is, each reform is calculated to prevent innocent people from being convicted [of a capital offense] while preserving the ability of the system to correctly identify and convict guilty persons. ”[93]

[1] Investigator, Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender, Death Penalty Trial Assistance Unit. J.D. candidate, Northwestern University School of Law, M.S. (Forensic Science), University of New Haven, B.S. (Psychology), University of Pittsburgh.

[2] Bhantnagar, Son’s testimony against father rejected, Times India, Feb. 15, 2002 (quoting Justice R. P. Sethi and Justice K G Balakrishnan of the India Supreme Court concerning the acquittal of Ram Niwas, who was tried for poisoning his wife).

[3] Tracy Peerage Case, 10 Cl. & F. 154, 191 (1984).

[4] Ramirez v. State, 2001 WL 1628609 *5 (Fla.2001).

[5] Scheck & Neufeld, Will Fingerprinting Stand Up in Court?, N.Y. Times, Mar. 9, 2002.

[6] Wrolstad, Hair-matching flawed as a forensic science: DNA testing reveals dozens of wrongful verdicts nationwide, Dallas Morning News, Mar. 31, 2002, available at 2002 WL 15818775 (hereinafter Flawed Hair Identification) (detailing dozens of cases where hair identification analysis led to dozens of wrongful convictions).

[7] Thornton & Peterson, The General Assumptions and Rationale of Forensic Identification, in 3 Modern Scientific Evidence: The Law And Science Of Expert Testimony§ 24-6.3 at 165 (Faigman et al. 2d eds., 2002) (emphasis added) (hereinafter General Assumptions II).

[8] Clifford, DNA Bills Stalled by Challenge, Newsday, June 15, 1989, at 5 (quoting forensic evidence expert Randolph Jonakait).

[9] National Institute of Justice, Death Investigation: A Guide for the Scene Investigator 1 (1999) (quoting former Chief Medical Examiner of Wayne County, Michigan, Dr. Werner Spitz) (hereinafter Death Investigation).

[10] The aforementioned fact and the ensuring details regarding William Broughton’s case can be found in Borchard, Convicting the Innocent 28-31 (1932) (hereinafter Convicting Innocent).

[11] Id. at 28.

[12] Id. at 29.

[13] Id.

[14] Id. These individuals were bestowed expert status since one “had had long experience in [the] bank work and the other because he was [a] traveling auditor for Standard Oil Company.” The fact that these so-called ‘experts’ did not possess any training or education within the field of handwriting identification did not deter the court from granting their expertise. At the turn of the century, expertise was determined by assessing whether an individual was successful in an occupation or profession that embraced knowledge which was relevant to the issues to be determined at trial. Likewise, the court had to determine whether the witness was providing testimony that was (a) relevant to a material issue and (b) beyond the ken of the average juror. See Cooley, Daubert and Kumho Tire: A Wake Up Call for the Forensic Sciences (2001) unpublished graduate school independent study, University of New Haven) (on file with author) (Hereinafter Wake of Daubert & Kumho) available at Here, all three experts were successful at an occupation relevant to an issue at trial, namely handwriting identification.

[15] Convicting Innocent, supra note 10, at 30.

[16] See Baker & Lieberman, Faulty Ballistics in Deputy’s Arrest: Eagerness to ‘Make’ Gun Cited in LAPD Lab Error, L.A. Times, May 22, 1989 (hereinafter LAPD Lab Error); Freed, LAPD Probing What Went Wrong With Ballistics Tests on Ross’ Gun, L.A. Times, May 16, 1989; Yant, Presumed Guilty: When Innocent People Are Wrongly Convicted 70-72 (1991) (detailing the case of Rickey Ross) (hereinafter Presumed Guilty).

[17] Presumed Guilty, supra note 16, at 72.

[18] See Scheck et al., Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches From the Wrongly Convicted158 -171 (2000) (hereinafter Actual Innocence I). Scheck et al. utilize this pseudonym. Likewise, the following accounts are taken from the aforementioned page numbers.

[19] On appeal, Durham’s sentence was reduced to 100 years.

[20] The initial DNA tests presented at the trial, likewise, exhibited several characteristics of shoddy science.

[21] Peterson & Markham, Crime Laboratory Proficiency Testing Results, 1978-1911, I: Identification and Classification of Physical Evidence, 40 J. Forensic Sci. 994, 994 (1995) (hereinafter Crime Lab Testing I).

[22] An abundance of cases will be discussed throughout this article.

[23] See Actual Innocence I, supra note 18.

[24] Id.

[25] Id. See also Saks et al., Toward a Model Act For the Prevention and Remedy of Erroneous Convictions, 35 New Eng. L. Rev. 669, 671 (2001) (hereinafter Model Act) (discussing Scheck’s findings).

[26] Saks et al., Model Prevention and Remedy of Erroneous Convictions Act, 33 Ariz. St. L.J. 665, 674 (2001) (hereinafter Erroneous Conviction Act).

[27] Id.

[28] 388 U.S. 218 (1967).

[29] Id. at 228.

[30] Saks, Banishing Ipse Dixit: The Effect of Kumho Tire on Forensic Identification Science, 57 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 879, 879 (2000) (hereinafter Banishing Ipse Dixit).

[31] 408 U.S. 238 (1972).

[32] Id. at 290 (emphasis added).

[33] See e.g., Horvath, & Messig, The Criminal Investigation Process and the Role of Forensic Evidence, 41 J. Forensic Sci. 663 (1996); Peterson et al., The Uses and Effects of Forensic Science in the Adjudication of Felony Cases, 32 J. Forensic Sci. 1730 (1987) (hereinafter Use & Effects In Adjudication).

[34] See infra, §V-E (discussing the issue of error in forensic science).

[35] See infra, §V-H (discussing the issue of prosecutorial and examiner bias in forensic science).

[36] See infra, § V-H (discussing the issue of subjectivity and forensic science).

[37] See Banishing Ipse Dixit, supra note 30, at 881 (“The forensic identification sciences have no basic science to undergird them. For most of their history, the forensic identification sciences had little or no academic or industrial infrastructure to provide them with knowledge, resources, or personnel. Instead, they invented themselves, and they exist on their own. They are an enterprise consisting of nearly all application and no science.”).

[38] See e.g., Kirk, Crime Investigation 2 (2d ed. 1974) (hereinafter Crime Investigation) (“Where he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as silent witness against him. Not just his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks, the toolmark he leaves, the paint he scratches, the blood or semen he deposits or collects – all of these bear mute witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are. It is factual evidence. Physical evidence cannot be wrong; it cannot perjure itself, it cannot be wholly absent – only its interpretation can err. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value.” (emphasis added)).

[39] Remarkably, even though our system of capital punishment in the United States is severely dysfunctional the United States Congress has recently passed legislation making federal habeas corpus remedies for actual innocence more difficult to obtain. See Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214 (1996) (codified as amended in scattered sections of 28 U.S.C.); id. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(2)(B) (restricting access to federal habeas corpus on a second or successive petition); id. § 2254(e)(2)(B) (restricting access to evidentiary hearings in federal habeas courts).

[40] See e.g., Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment Report (2002) (Listing 85 recommended reforms which “if implemented… [would] enhance significantly the fairness, justice and accuracy of capital punishment in Illinois.”); Liebman et al., A Broken System, Part II: Why There Is So Much Error in Capital Cases, and What Can Be Done About It (2002) (noting the numerous errors which continue to permeate the capital justice system); Weinstein, The Nation Death Penalty Foes Mark a Milestone Crime: Arizona convict freed on DNA tests is said to be the 100th known condemned U.S. prisoner to be exonerated since executions resumed, L.A. Times, Apr. 10, 2002, at A16, available at 2002 WL 2467443 (discussing the case of Ray Krone who became the 100th former death row inmate to be released since 1973); Drury, Macon asks Barnes, lawmakers to temporarily stop executions, City Council resolutions supports study of death penalty and DNA database, Macon only second Georgia city to support moratorium, Macon Telegraph (Ga.), Mar. 20, 2002, available at 2002 WL 8369648 (noting how Macon, Georgia became the second city in Georgia to ask Gov. Roy Barnes and the Georgia General Assembly to temporarily halt state-sanctioned executions so that a comprehensive study of the state’s use of the death penalty can be carried out); Weinstein, The Nation Death Penalty Study Suggests Errors Executions: States with the highest rate of capital punishment sentences also have the highest rate of reversal, research finds, L.A. Times, Feb. 11, 2002 (discussing the findings of Columbia University Law Professor James S. Liebman’s study, A Broken System: Part II); Editorial, Death Penalty Roulette – Serious Flaws Demand State Scrutiny, Miami Herald, Feb. 13, 2002 (noting that Florida leads the nation in wrongful capital convictions); Long & Clark, Supreme Court, Governor Halt Fla. Executions, Miami Herald, Feb. 6, 2002 (discussing how Florida Governor Jed Bush’s decision to halt the execution of an inmate with no attorney has essentially placed a moratorium on Florida executions); Stapp, Rights – U.S.: Death Penalty Study Again Finds ‘Disturbing’ Errors, Inter Press Serv., Feb. 14, 2002 (noting that the states that execute the most people also have the highest death penalty reversal rates); Whaley, Study tracks death penalty reversal rates, Las Vegas Rev.-J., Feb. 12, 2002 (noting that more mistakes are made in homicide cases in counties where juries impose the death penalty more often); Cook, Death case errors due to mishaps Study: Problem found in 80% of Ga. convictions, Atlanta J. & Const., Feb. 11, 2002, (noting that Georgia has one of the highest rates of reversible error in capital convictions, eighty percent, compared to sixty-eight percent nationally); Jennings, Death penalty study challenges stereotypes: Texas not leader in actual rate of verdicts that order executions, Dallas Morning News, Feb. 11, 2002 (detailing that Texas has been labeled as a high-risk state for faulty trials and sentences and for conviction of the innocent); Manson, Lawyers Wrestle with Perceptions, Practicalities of Capital Punishment, Chi. Daily L. Bull., Aug. 6, 2001 (noting that American Bar Association President Martha W. Barnett encouraged lawyers to restore their efforts to implement the ABA's call for a nationwide moratorium on executions); Berlow, The broken machinery of death, Am. Prospect, July 30, 2001 (noting that an increasing number of Americans have begun to question the rationality of the death penalty system); Mendieta, Death Penalty still unfair, report says, Chi. Sun-Times, Jan. 31, 2001 (noting that a year after Illinois Governor, George Ryan, announced a moratorium on all executions, capital punishment in Illinois continues to be inflicted in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner); Tucker, Blunders of the system – Support for death penalty wanes as mistakes are uncovered, Patriot-News, June 18, 2001 (“Around the country, state legislatures are placing safeguards on a system that for decades has served only as a mechanism for eliminating marginal members of American society; the poor, the criminally insane, the violent retarded.”); Liebman et al., Capital Attrition: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-1995, 78 Tex. L. Rev. 1839 (2000) (noting that the national error rate in capital cases between 1973-1995 was 68%); Levy, Righting Illinois’ Wrongs: Suggestions For Reform And A Call For Abolition, 34 J. Marshall L. Rev. 469, 471 (2001) (hereinafter Righting Wrongs) (noting that Illinois Governor, George Ryan, placed a moratorium on executions “Until [he] [could] be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois [was] truly guilty . . ..”); Hartman & Richards, The Illinois Death Penalty: What Went Wrong?, 34 J. Marshall L. Rev. 409 (2001) (hereinafter What Went Wrong) (discussing that thirteen men have been wrongfully convicted of capital cases in the state of Illinois); Olsen, Uncertain Justice, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 6, 2001 (detailing that nearly a fifth of the men facing execution in Washington state are or were represented by lawyers who had been, or were later, disbarred, suspended or arrested); Olson, Defense for capital crimes often done on the cheap, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 8, 2001 (noting that Washington’s funding practices, in particular capital defense funding, and miserliness have resulted in numerous miscarriages of justice); Olsen, One killer, Two Standards, Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 7, 2001 (noting the lack of uniformity in how elected prosecutors determine whether to seek the death penalty against a particular defendant); Olsen, State fund doesn't provide much relief from costs of capital cases, Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 8, 2001 (discussing the enormous economic costs involved to take a capital case to trial and how some states, specifically Washington, have had to create special funds in order to finance these costs); Berlow, Death in Texas; The Capital of Capital Punishment Should Heed Illinois's Example, Wash. Post, Feb. 13, 2000 (noting the blatant flaws within Texas’ death penalty system); Mills & Armstrong, Death Row justice derailed, Chi. Trib., Nov. 14, 1999 (noting that “[c]apital punishment in Illinois is a system so riddled with faulty evidence… that justice has been forsaken…”); Mills & Armstrong, The jailhouse informant, Chi. Trib., Nov. 16, 1999 (noting how prosecutors and law enforcement often times rely on unreliable jailhouse snitches to secure a conviction); Mills & Armstrong, Inept defenses cloud verdict, Chi. Trib., Nov. 15, 1999 (detailing that incompetent attorneys often times are the ones representing the indigent capital defendant); Mills & Armstrong, A tortured path to Death Row, Chi. Trib., Nov. 16, 1999 (describing how many capital convictions were obtained via coerced and tortured confessions); Mills, Questions of Innocence: Legal Roadblocks thwart new evidence on appeal, Chi. Trib., Dec. 18, 2000 (noting that evidence which could raise a reasonable doubt at trial does not have the same potency on appeal; and appellate courts are reluctant to second-guess jury verdicts and typically defer to rulings by trial judges); Mills, Possley & Armstrong, Shadows of Doubt Haunt executions: 3 Cases Weaken Under Scrutiny, Chi. Trib., Dec. 17, 2000; Mills & Armstrong, Convicted By Hair, Chi. Trib., Nov. 18, 1999 (detailing that prosecutors still rely heavily on the unreliable hair and fiber evidence to link a defendant to a crime scene); Chadler & Chandler, Errors, Inequalities Often Cloud Capital Cases in the Carolinas, Charlotte Observer, Sept. 9, 2000 (noting that “[c]apital punishment in the Carolinas is so tainted with mistakes, inequalities and incompetence that the system risks executing innocent people, while sparing some of the states’ most vicious killers…”); Phillips, Talladega: Death Row Country: Is Fairness Missing From the State’s use of Capital Punishment, Birmingham Post-Herald, Dec. 14, 2001 (commenting on the politics involved in capital punishment when “[j]udges and district attorneys are elected, and must answer to voters who overwhelmingly favor the death penalty.”); Bright, Guilty Until Proven Innocent, Birmingham Post-Herald, Dec. 15, 2001 (discussing that prosecutors and law enforcement often get ‘tunnel vision’ when they focus on one primary suspect); Bright, Finding Reason Enough For Death, Birmingham Post-Herald, Dec. 17, 2001 (noting that twenty states allow for mentally disabled defendants to be executed); Phillips, Does Race Decide Who Dies? Some Say Color of Defendant, victim plays significant role, Birmingham Post-Herald, Dec. 16, 2001 (discussing how the racial make up of the victim and defendant affects whether the state will seek the death penalty); Phillips, Justice at 50 Cents An Hour, Birmingham Post-Herald, Dec. 18, 2001 (highlighting the fact that appointed defense attorneys receive next to nothing, monetarily, from the courts to defend an individual facing the death penalty).

[41] See for Governor Ryan’s January 31, 2000 press released statement:

“I now favor a moratorium, because I have grave concerns about our state's shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on death row…And, I believe, many Illinois residents now feel that same deep reservation. I cannot support a system, which, in its administration, has proven to be so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life. Thirteen people have been found to have been wrongfully convicted.”

“Until I can be sure that everyone sentenced to death in Illinois is truly guilty, until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate… I am a strong proponent of tough criminal penalties, of supporting laws and programs to help police and prosecutors keep dangerous criminals off the streets. We must ensure the public safety of our citizens but, in doing so, we must ensure that the ends of justice are served.”

See also Armstrong & Mills, Ryan: “Until I can be sure”: Illinois Is The First State to Suspend Death Penalty, Chi. Trib., Feb. 1, 2000 (noting that Illinois has had a “shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on Death Row.”).

[42] See American Bar Ass'n, Whatever You Think About the Death Penalty, A System That Will Take Life Must First Give Justice: A Report from the IR&R Death Penalty Committee, 24 W.T.R. Hum. Rts. 22 (1997).

[43] Even though the moratorium was vetoed, the study proceeded, finding economic and geographic disparities—see Hambleton, Research: Limit Call for Executions, Lincoln J. Star, Oct. 18, 2001; Tysyer, Execution Suspension Approved: Senators Hand Johanns Life-and-Death Decision, Omaha World-Herald, May 20, 1999; Tysyer, Death Penalty Study Ok’d, Omaha World-Herald, May 28, 1999.

[44] See The Justice Project, 2001 State Legislation on Death Penalty Reform at a Glimpse, July 19, 2001.

[45] See e.g., Maryland’s Execution Pause, Wash. Post, Apr. 15, 2001 (noting that “[t]he Maryland Court of Appeals… accomplished what the state’s legislature failed to do… put a temporary halt on executions in the state.”).

[46] Dinan, Time Limit Lifted on DNA Testing for Felons, Wash. Times, May 3, 2001. See also Timberg, Time Limit Lifted for DNA Appeals, Wash. Post, May 3, 2001 (noting that Governor James S. Gilmore III “approved a new right today for death row inmates, adding Virginia to the growing list of states that give the condemned access to DNA testing long after their conviction.”).

[47] These states include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington

[48] See Uniform Statute for Obtaining Post-Conviction DNA Testing, Unanimously Approved at the Ninth Meeting of the Natinal Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence, Apr. 9-10, 2000.

[49] See Death Penalty Info. Ctr., The Death Penalty in 2000: Year End Report (2000), at

[50] For instance Minnesota Reform Party Governor Jesse Ventura—see Harwood, Bush May Be Hurt by Handling of Death Penalty Issue, Wall St. J., Mar. 21, 2001 (noting that “Gov. Jesse Venture… ha[s] abandoned his former support for capital punishment”); Illinois Republican Governor George Ryan—see Ryan Says He Won’t Run for Re-Election, Chi. Trib., Aug. 9, 2001 (quoting Governor Ryan as saying, “During the past three years, I’ve talked to people all over the world about the shocking condition of our capital punishment system… I knew then as I do now that I had no choice but to call a halt to what was obviously a deeply flawed system.”); New Mexico Republican Governor Gary Johnson—see Facing Death, Santa Fe New Mexican, Oct. 28, 2001 (“Gov. Gary Johnson – for years a staunch advocate for the death penalty – now says that eliminating capital punishment might be good for public policy.”); Connecticut Republican Governor John Rowland—see Seib, Bush’s Race Issue: What’s the Role of Death Penalty, Wall St. J., Feb. 28, 2001 (quoting Governor Rowland, a long-time death penalty advocate, as citing concerns about the unfair application of the death penalty against racial minorities); prominent author and writer for the Washing Post George Will—see Will, Innocent on Death Row, Wash. Post, Apr. 6, 2000; noted writer for the Washington Times Paul Craig Roberts—see Roberts, Wash. Times, June 19, 2001 (“An ever growing number of books, innocence projects and overturned convictions speak to the unreliability of conviction. A surprising number of death row inmates have been discovered to be innocent of the capital offense for which they were convicted. A criminal justice system that convicts innocents on the serious charge of murder is certain to convict innocents on less serious charges as well.”); and conservative commentator Oliver North—see Reno, Support for Death Penalty Goes Wobbly, Des Moines Reg., June 12, 2000 (quoting Mr. North as declaring, “I think capital punishment’s day is done in this country. I don’t think it’s fairly applied.”).

[51] Lounsberry, Death Penalty’s Fairness Debated Nationwide, Phil. Inq., June 8, 2001 (noting that Justice Ginsburg has “yet to see a death penalty case among the dozens coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well-represented at trial.”).

[52] Bakst, O’Connor Questions Death Penalty, Associated Press, July 2, 2001 (Justice O’Connor uttered this sentiment to the Minnesota Women Lawyers Association on July 3, 2001 in Minneapolis, Minnesota). Justice O’Connor elaborated on her concerns at a Nebraska Bar Association meeting several months later—see Fulwider, O’Connor Lectures Lawyers,, Nebraska, Oct. 18, 2001 (during her speech Justice O’Connor stated that “innocent people may well continue to receive the death penalty if lawyers don’t… start doing more pro bono work for indigent defendants…”).

[53] Callins v. Collins, 114 S.Ct. 1127, 1130 (Blackmun, J. dissenting).

[54] Hoffmann, Violence and the Truth, 76 Ind. L.J. 939, 940-41 (2001).

[55] See Nathanson, As You Were Saying… Death penalty still bad idea in the post-Sept. 11 world, Boston Herald, Feb. 10, 2002 (arguing that “the events of Sept. 11 actually strengthen[ed] familiar arguments against the death penalty and provide[d] powerful new arguments against it as well.”).

[56] Harwood, Despite the McVeigh Case, Curbs on Executions Are Gaining Support, Wall St. J., May 22, 2001 (quoting prominent death penalty proponent Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating).

[57] See e.g., Model Act, supra note 25; Righting Wrongs, supra note 40; Actual Innocence I, supra note 18; Erroneous Conviction Act, supra note 26.

[58]See e.g., Model Act, supra note 25. For instance, eyewitness identification line-ups, suspect interrogations, and the use of jailhouse informants.

[59] See e.g., Crimmins, Few Jumping Through Hoops to Join Capital Case Bar, Chi. Daily L. Bull., July 24, 2001 (detailing “the new court- mandated Capital Litigation Trial Bar, where the rules for membership are stiff. Only members of this bar may prosecute or defend death penalty cases in Illinois starting March 1, 2002.”).

[60] See e.g., Crimmins, Judges Go To School On Death Penalty, Chi. Daily L. Bull., Sept. 7, 2001.

[61] See e.g., Brooks, Efforts Increase To Improve State Systems, 15 Crim. Just. 59 (2000) (noting that efforts to improve state indigent defense systems have intensified due, in part, to a joint project between the ABA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)); White, Establishing A Capital Defense Unit In Virginia: A Proposal To Increase The Quality of Representation For Indigent Capital Defendants, 13 Cap. Def. J. 323 (2001).

[62] See e.g., Horan, The Innocence Commission: An Independent Review Board For Wrongful Convictions, 21 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 91 (2001). Remarkably, the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, Thomas Zlaket, supports the idea of such commissions—see Fimea, Zlaket Supports Innocence Panel, Ariz. Bus. Gazette, June, 21, 2001(hereinafter Zlaket Supports) (Chief Justice Zlaket asserted, “[w]e [the legal and criminal justice system] have an obligation to find out why the system when awry.”); Johnson, Orange County’s Innocent Project, Orange County Lawyer 18 (Dec. 2001) (discussing how the Orange County District Attorney's Office implemented the Orange County District Attorney's Office Innocence Project to evaluate the merits of potentially wrongly convicted defendants).

[63] See e.g., Koosed, Averting Mistaken Executions by Adopting the Model Penal Code’s Exclusion of Death in the Presence of Lingering Doubt, 21 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 41 (2001) (arguing for the adoption of the Model Penal Code’s exclusion of the death penalty when the evidence does not foreclose all doubt regarding the defendant’s guilt).

[64] See Hopkins, Keating Proposes Death Penalty Standard, The Oklahoman, June 23, 2001 (noting that Oklahoma Governor George Keating called for a “higher threshold” of certainty about guilt that would “requir[e] a juror to go deeper in his own deliberations than the ‘reasonable doubt’ standard requires”); Podhoretz, Why DNA Will Save the Death Penalty, N.Y. Post, June 19, 2001 (arguing for changes in “state and federal sentencing guidelines [that] would make it possible to impose the death penalty only in cases where the physical evidence makes it absolutely certain that the accused is indeed the killer. When the evidence is circumstantial, the death penalty will not be sought.”).

[65] See, e.g., Innocence Protection Act, S. 2073, 106th Cong. (2000) (proposed by Senator Patrick Leahy); DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106- 546, 114 Stat. 2726 (2000); Paul Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-561, 114 Stat. 2787 (2000).

[66] An exception to this statement are Saks’ excellent recent articles—see MODEL Act, supra note 25; Erroneous Conviction Act, supra note 26.

[67] See e.g., Giannelli, The Abuse of Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases: The Need for Independent Crime Laboratories, 4 Va. J. Soc. Pol’y & L. 439 (1997) (hereinafter Independent Crime Labs) (discussing that the current structure of forensic science is a primary reason for much of the “junk” forensic science); Jonakait, Forensic Science: The Need for Regulation, 4 Harv. J. L. & Tech. 109 (1991) (hereinafter Need For Regulation) (detailing the structural and regulatory inadequacies within the forensic community); Cooley, Law, Reliability, and the Reconstructionist: Why the Supreme Court and the Federal Rules of Evidence Require the Reconstructionist to Employ the Scientific Method, presented at the Association of Crime Scene Reconstruction’s Annual Training Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 8-10, 2001, available at (hereinafter Reliability & Reconstructionist) (noting that the current structure of the forensic community fails to develop the requisite critical an analytical thinking skills to be a competent ‘scientist’); Messina, Neutral crime lab unlikely after FBI investigation, Charleston Gazette, January 31, 2002 (hereinafter Neutral Lab Unlikely) (discussing the problems with the current law enforcement structured forensic system).

[68] National Institute of Standards and Technology, 1999 Survey of Forensic Reference Material vi (2000) (further noting, “Overwhelmingly, they expressed a critical need for basic information resources that should be available in every laboratory.” Id.).

[69] National Institute of Justice, Forensic Sciences: Review of Status and Needs 13 (1999) (hereinafter Forensic Status & Needs).

[70] See e.g., Crimmins, State Police Director Vigorously Defends Agency’s Crime Lab, Chi. Daily L. Bull., July 19, 2001 (noting that the Illinois State Police Director, Sam Nolen “admitted [that] the state police crime lab has serious backlogs in evidence… [and that] the[se] backlogs are caused by chronic understaffing and underfunding.”).

[71] Graham, Crime labs contaminate justice: Poor science, quality control jailing innocent, Chi. Trib., June 21, 2000 (hereinafter Labs Contaminate Justice) (quoting Janine Arvizu, an Albuquerque consultant who formerly was a top laboratory manager in the Navy and the Energy Department).

[72] Henderson-Garcia, Expert Witness Malpractice: A Solution to the Problem of the Negligent Expert Witness, 12 Miss. C. L. Rev. 39, 57 (1991) (hereinafter Expert Witness Malpractice).

[73] Labs Contaminate Justice, supra note 71, (quoting Dr. William Thompson, professor of criminology at the University of California-Irvine).

[74] Lander, DNA Fingerprint On Trial, 339 Nature 501, 505 (1989); see also McDonald, Juries and Crime Labs: Correcting The Weak Links in the DNA Chain, 24 Am. J.L. & Med. 345, 354-55 (1998) (“Current medical standards for diagnosing strep throat are more stringent than those for forensic laboratories testing DNA in criminal trials where lives hang in the balance.”)

[75] See Labs Contaminate Justice, supra note 71, Crime Labs Get Ignored and Criminals Go Free, USA Today, Aug. 22, 1996, (noting that two of the nation's busiest labs, the Los Angeles and New York labs, are among the 60% that have not met the minimum accreditation standards of the American Society of Crime Lab Directors).

[76] See N.Y. Exec. Law § 995-b (McKinney 1996) (requiring the Commission on Forensic Science to establish a program of accreditation for all forensic laboratories in New York).

[77] Independent Crime Laboratories, supra note 67, at 441.

[78] See e.g., Risinger et al., The Daubert/Kumho Implications of Observer Effect in Forensic Science: Hidden Problems of Expectation and Suggestion, 90 Cal. L. Rev. 1, 27 (2002) (Observer Effect & Forensic Science):

“Subjective judgement and interpretation by the human observer remain the principle methods of reaching conclusions in most forensic disciplines, and the working environment of the forensic scientist is not lacking in sources of expectation or outcome preferences.”

Miller, Procedural Bias in Forensic Science Examinations of Hair, 11 Law & Hum. Behav. 157, 159 (1987) (hereinafter Procedural Hair Bias) (arguing that “forensic hair examiners may be influenced by the social interaction between themselves, the police or attorney(s) requesting their services, and the situation in which they are requested to do an analysis.”).

[79] Specifically, the forensic identification sciences (firearms examination, handwriting identification, fingerprint identification, bitemark analysis, criminal profiling, ect.).

[80] See, infra §III-C.1 (discussing the Guy Paul Morin case—forensic testimony regarding the significance or probativeness of fiber and hair evidence played a substantial part in Guy Paul Morin’s wrongful conviction).

[81] Bourke, Misapplied Science: Unreliability in Scientific Test Evidence, 10 Aust. Bar Rev. 123, 195 (1993) (hereinafter Misapplied Science); see also Crime Bill Should Focus on Forensic Science, Wall St. J. Mar. 1, 1995 (quoting Mark Dale, then president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, as arguing, “One key area where Washington can make a difference [in terms of cutting crime] is forensic science.”); Bill would create forensic science oversight board, legislation also nixes lifetime appointment of director, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Ga.), Mar. 20, 2002, available at 2002 WL 7755633 (discussing the pending bill in the Alabama Legislature which would create an oversight board of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences).

[82] See Peterson, Ethical Issues in the Collection, Examination, and Use of Physical Evidence, in Forensic Science 42 (Davies ed. 1986)(hereinafter Peterson Ethical Issues):

“As a whole, the profession lacks minimum education, training, and competency standards for its personnel… Unlike most other scientific professions, the criminalistics… field is without procedures to assess and recognize member of the profession who have satisfied minimum criteria for practicing in their forensic specialty. The profession has no minimum criteria for education and training requirements, experience, or performance on written or practical examinations”

Bradford, Barriers to Quality Achievement in Crime Laboratory Operations, 25 J. Forensic Sci. 902, 905 (1980) (hereinafter Barriers to Quality Achievement):

“[There] is no uniform or core curriculum or internship that leads to the practice of criminalistics[;] there are no minimum course requirements in terms of a structured program [;] there is not even a consensus of what the educational requirements should be in specialized forensic science subjects [;] and there are no codified standards of practice, either formal or informal, in the identification aspects of criminalistics toward which and educational program can be planned.”

[83] This suggestion is not an innovative one. Critics have been making this suggestions for nearly forty-years—see Kirk & Kingston, The Use of Statistics in Criminalistics, 9 J. Forensic Sci. 434, 434 (1964) (hereinafter Kirk & Kingston Statistics):

“At this stage of development of the so-called 'forensic sciences' there are few areas indeed in which there is any collection of reference data suitable for statistical or another kind of mathematical analysis. All of us who have talked of certainty have been delinquent, since we do not even have the data to establish the degree of uncertainty.”

[84] See Livingston, In-Service Training for Crime Laboratory Analysts, in Forensic Science 81 (Davies ed. 1986):

“Training guidelines [in the forensic community]… must contend with the fact that crime-laboratory services delivery is not standardized between various laboratories. Not only do the specific duties of the individuals within the eight or so criminalistics specialties sometimes vary from one laboratory system to another, the methods in use vary as well. Even in a single laboratory differences can be found in the methods employed for providing a given forensic service, although these differences are probably less pronounced.”

[85] Again, by no means is this a novel suggestion—see Bias & Quality Control supra note 82, at 512:

“[The] administration and control of the proposed forensic science facilities should be transferred to the judicial branch of government. Thus, the facilities would not be aligned with either side in the dispute and would not be subject to the pressures of working for law enforcement or the defense.”

[86] Rudin & Inman, Exonerated by Science, 37 Jurimetrics J. 319, 320 (1997)

[87] Erroneous Conviction Act, supra note 26, at 699.

[88] Expert Witness Malpractice, supra note 72, at 57. See also Peterson & Murdock, Forensic Science Ethics: Developing an Integrated System of Support and Enforcement, 34 J. Forensic Sci. 749 (1989).

[89] See Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 (1985) (Supreme Court for the first time recognized a due process right to expert assistance for indigents when the matter about which the expert is to testify is likely to be a significant factor at trial). But see Saltzburg & Capra, American Criminal Procedure 802 (6th ed. 2000) (“Generally speaking the courts have read Ake narrowly, and have refused to require appointment of an expert unless it is absolutely essential to the defense.”).

[90] See infra, §III-B.2 (discussing the Pamela Fish injustices in Chicago).

[91] See e.g., National Research Council, DNA Technology in Forensic Science 146 (1992) (“The prosecutor has a strong responsibility to reveal fully to defense counsel and experts retained by the defendant all material that might be necessary in evaluating evidence.”); Spencer v. Commonwealth, 384 S.E.2d 785, 791 (Va. 1989) (reaffirming "'[t]here is no general constitutional right to discovery in a criminal case"') (citations

Government Cases Act, 2049 B.S. of Nepal Needs urgent amendment

Section 11(4) of Government Cases Act, 2049 B.S. of Nepal

Needs urgent amendment

Dr. Harihar Wasti, M.D.,M.Sc., B.L.


Section 11(4) of Government Cases Act, 2049 BS cuts the path to justice. This provision avoids opportunity of discovering potential forensic evidences by destroying the dead body before being examined by Medical Doctor. Parliament has no authority to enact laws in such a way that the law itself becomes barrier to deliver justice. Police investigator may think that no evidence can be produced from decayed dead body but in fact Modi[1] recognizes that vital clues to solve the mystery of crime can be available even from decomposed dead body. Modi[2] advocates that it is very important to conduct Post Mortem examination of Decomposed Dead body as in normal dead body. The examination of decomposed body should be complete and should be held in same line as in ordinary autopsies.

* Existing provision:

It says that - If police finds or feels that a dead boody can not be examined because of extreme decomposition, it is not necessary for him him/her to forward the dead body to government's medical doctor for post mortem examination. Police is given power to burn down such dead body if no relatives of deceased take away the dead body.

* Defect in current provision:

It is not my intention to blame that police will misuse this legal lacuna. Rather what I am focusing is that if the law do not provide such discretionary space for police then there will not be room for suspecting over the act done by police under good faith. Current law provides ample space for public to criticize even an honest police who is acting under good faith. By making autopsy mandatory even in decomposed dead body, three more advantages will be achieved viz. firstly, opportunity to discover possible forensic evidences will not be blocked. Secondly the attempt of criminal or crime supporter to block post mortem examination will go to vain and thirdly, it will upgrade the dignity of police institution in the eyes of public because there will be no opportunity to criticize over the police by blaming that police is misusing this legal provision.

* Landmark Examples:

Ø By examining an extremely decomposed body of a 40 years old Hindu male, Modi gave his opinion that the deceased was first killed by a wound on the neck, and stab wounds on the chest, and then tied with a dhoti and thrown into a well. Before examination by Modi there was whim in public that the deceased had committed suicide. ---- (p. 109)

Ø Mode of death (Hanging[3] & drowning[4]), nature of weapon[5] used, clues to the cause of death[6] etc. have been discovered by examining the extremely decomposed dead body: ---- (p. 110)

Ø A body found in a well in very advanced state of decomposition was send for examination from police station Lacknow. All internal organs had disappeared, except a small portion of the small intestine and uterus. The lower jaw and the hands were missing. The skull was denuded free of soft tissues, but had a depressed fissured fracture at the junction of the parietal bones with the frontal. there was a necklace of glass beads round the neck, the soft pairs of which were destroyed in front of maggots, which were crawling all over the body. The body appeared to be that of a Hindu female, who had been killed due to the fracture of the skull bone with a blunt weapon and was then thrown into a well. ---- (Modi; p. 113)

Ø In Rex v. Dobkin MCR, Vol XI, Part III, 1943, 182 the husband was charged with murder, was found guilty and sentenced to death by examining the available skull, superimposed photographs, original portrait and fibroid tumour of the uterus remained in the extremely decomposed dead body of his wife. ---- (Modi; p. 115)

Ø A buried body of 370 days of burial was taken out from Sindhupalchowk, examined and the report could be prepared for complete positive identification and cause of death was found as cut injuries to head by heavy sharp weapon like Khukuri. (Record of autopsy CJ Hospital Kathmandu) The case was successfully prosecuted and accused was convicted.

Ø The body of alleged Mr. H. B. exhumed more than 2 years of illegal killing and burial at a jungle of Kavrepalanchowk on 2063-03-21.The autopsy report from Forensic Medicine Department Maharajgunj could be able to give opinion as the skeletal remains are of from Mr. H.B. on the basis of remains of citizenship, office ID document and clothing. The cause of death was found as a shotgun injury from close distance to pelvis (Record from Forensic Medicine Department FM63-0356, 2063-04-09).

Ø Dead body of another illegal custodial killing of M.S. was exhumed from Panchkhal Kavre after 4 years of burial.On the basis of morphological features and a unique type of necklace could give positive identification and she was the victim of gunfire injury to spinal column. (FMD 23-03-2007)

* Why amendment?

* Conclusion:

Post mortem examination of decomposed dead body must be made compulsory at any cost. Post mortem examination of decomposed body is equally important as of normal or fresh dead body. The legal provision must not give discretionary power to police to dispose dead body without conducting autopsy. Once the dead body is burnt down, the vital evidence will be lost forever and no power in the world can re-generate or recover the value of destroyed evidence. Section 11(3), (4) and (5) of Government Cases Act, 2049 BS needs to be urgently amended in this line.

The end

[1] Modi Jaising P is the most distinguished medical jurist in India who died on 19th June 1954. Dr. Modi was for many years considered the most reliable expert in medico-legal cases and his expert opinions were upheld in every court if India. He is the most trusted international medico-legal expert in Nepalese courts till the day).

[2] Modi Jaising P.; Modi’s Medical Jurisprudence & Toxicology, New Delhi, LexizNexis Tripathi Publication, (2002), Ed. 22; p. 109. (This book has no provincial boundaries or national border for it is considered as an international monument in the field of medical-law.)

[3] In a case of hanging, Modi found a ligature mark in the neck on the 6th day after death, when the body had been putrefied to a large extent. ---- (Modi; p. 110)

[4] At the post mortem examination held on the 5th day after death when the body was advanced in putrefaction, the presence of mud in the right bronchus led Modi to form a diagnosis of death due to drowning. ---- (Modi; p. 110)

[5] For example fracture of skull bones, cut injuries in the bones etc. will explore that they might have been caused by such and such weapon. ---- (Modi; p. 110)

[6] A foreign body such as a bullet, apiece of weapon or some other object found in body may give a valuable clue to the cause of death. ---- (Modi; p. 110)

Forensic Science and Qualification of Forensic Scientist

Forensic Science and Qualification of Forensic Scientist

Advocate Padma Raj Kaphle

Handwriting & Fingerprint Expert**

"If the law has made you a witness, remain a man of science.
You have no victim to avenge, no guilty or innocent person to convict
or save — you must bear testimony within the limits of science."'

— Dr. P.C.H. Brouardel
19th Century French Medico-legalist

The word forensic has been derived from the Latin word forensis: Its modern definition is suitable to courts of judicature. That is any branch of science, used for the purpose of a law, is a forensic science. Now a days its role other than civil and criminal justice is expanding. This science is a important tool for investigators and courts to determine truth in different kinds of questions of science in the justice system. Issues range from questions of the validity of a thumb prints or a signature on a document, to a claim of product liability and the protection of constitutionally guaranteed individual and human rights.

The facts developed by forensic scientists, based on scientific investigations, are not circumstantial evidences or unreliable testimony of witnesses, but they are truth which are proved in prescribed procedure by the scientific way to establish and convince the courts with demonstrative technique.

Examination result of the forensic scientist declares that the existence or non existence crime or present or absent suspect at seen of crime. It may make connection to a crime and criminals too. The forensic scientist provides information and expert opinion to investigators and courts which is helpful in determining the innocence or guilt of the accused.

Our courts are bound to fallow the rule of law. It is based on the belief that the legal system which is universally accepted principle of law and justice. One of the principle of law is that no one should be punished without sufficient proof against suspect. The subject "forensic science" is not taught in almost colleges in Nepal, however, one of the School of Law has started to teach this subject too. Therefore, almost judges and lawyers are not understand this subject fully and mistrust some time of expert's opinion and used to say that expert's opinion is "necessary evil" . Of course, the forensic scientist cannot change skepticism and mistrust from the minds at once. we should, however, contribute to restoring faith in judicial processes by using science and technology in the search for truth in civil and criminal cases with demonstrating facts , quoting authorities, producing photographs, charts and understandable reports with simple language. We should try to educate them either by organizing training, seminar or by our reports which we used to produce different courts in Nepal.

We, the forensic scientists, no matter where and by whom are appointed or employed, should find truth and work only for truth, not for their employer's or party's interest. We must make sure that the examinations are done scientifically, completely and correctly according to the prescribed principle of respective science. The interpretation of the data or facts must be scientific .The written reports must be illustrative and easily understood by the general men/women and the testimony must be complete and truthful with related photographs and charts. If the answers of the questions of the courts are not clear or insufficient and vague, the opinion may be rejected and not acceptable in the courts.
To make an opinion scientific, the fallowing four steps of "ACE_V" procedure of examination must be fulfilled.

A_nalysis : Discovery of facts.

C_omparison: Comparison of those finding facts.

E_valuation : Result of the comparison.

V_erification: To verify by other than first examiner, if any discrepancy present.

Lay witness express his verbal statement under oath, in the courts. The ordinary witness can testify only on the basis of his personal knowledge of a situation gained through the use of his five senses. He could not express opinions formed on any other basis. He can narrate the situation and facts only.

On the other hand, forensic scientist can testify not only on the basis of personal knowledge or belief, but also in the form of opinion based on his finding facts interpretation and evaluation of those facts which can be demonstrated in open court too. Scientists interprets facts and deducts the result which becomes a scientific opinion. The report or statement in the courts are the pictures of the qualification, skills, experience and ability of forensic scientist "Expert". If he does not shows his expertise's or above mentioned skills in his report and statement "Bakpatra" in respective court, he will be considered an scientific "expert" witness otherwise he will be only an ordinary or "fact" witness. He will not be supposed a qualified expert. His opinion may be rejected. An expert's qualification is determined through his report and statement stated in the courts, not by the Certificates of Degrees or Trainings. Certificates are only gate pass to entry in the courts.

Beyond above mentioned criteria, there are other four necessary criteria that are accepted by the courts of civilized countries to qualify a person as an expert witness in principle.

These are:

1: Special knowledge gained by educational degrees or by training.

2: Number of years of occupational experience in the field,

3: Membership in professional organizations, and

4: Professional articles or books that the person has published.

The forensic scientist, as an "expert" witness, must be able to explain complex chemical reactions, the working of scientific instruments, modern equipments such as computers, scanners, or medical conditions, interpretation of characteristics of handwriting fingerprints, drugs in simple everyday language understandable to anyone. Not scientific jargon. This is not easy. It is so difficult that before a new scientist.

The forensic scientist must be impartial and unbiased. He/She must tell all of the truth, "the whole truth," no matter what it is or whom it hurts or helps. An expert opinion can be offered upon scientific data (facts) only. If data are not found sufficient in examination to form an opinion, must not be express or write positive or negative opinion.

The work of the forensic scientist should be examined carefully by the courts to find any imperfection whether in the examination performed or in the interpretation of those facts or the basis of opinion on which it is based. Forensic scientists are entirely responsible for the work they performs; no one else can write reports on behalf of them nor testify the opinions in the courts or excuse for their mistakes.

If the forensic scientist "expert" could not show the facts of investigation result and could not satisfy with his interpretation to the court, the opposing lawyer will try to undermine or discredit testimony which may be rejected present opinion and also his future opinion.

Therefore, the forensic witness must be qualified and knowledgeable of both his special area of scientific knowledge and expertise and the rules of evidence that govern the admissibility of opinions and conclusions.

**Founder President ( 1996-1999) and Present President (2006- )




Forensic DNA
Forensic Biology
Forensic Serology
Forensic Medicine
Forensic Chemistry
Wildlife Forensic
Forensics Criminology
Questioned Documents
Drug and Drugs of Abuse
Forensic Ballistics
Forensic Toxicology
Forensic Anthropology
Forensic Odontology
Forensic Photography
Forensics Science Education, Research and Development
Forensic in Human Rights
Voice Identification
Veterinary Forensics
Forensic Fingerprints



Up dated Srawan, 2063






Ajaya Kumar Chaudhary



Bhinu shova Tuladhar



Bishwa Lal Shrestha



Dr.Bidur P.Osti


Dr.Harihar wasti



Dr.Pramod kr. Shrestha



Dr.Shyam Lohani


Ganesh Shrestha



Gopal Bdr.Khatri



Janak bdr. Singh



Jiwan pd. Rijal



Keshab Bdr. Thapa



Mohan Sing Dhami



Mukul Pradhan


Nagendra BarsinghThapa


Om Prakash Sharma



Padma Raj Kaphle




Pawan dhungana



Prakash Regmi






Raj Kumar Gumanju



Ramesh Parajuli


Ravi Rawal


Rebati Raman Pokharel


S.B.S. Basnet


Sahakul KC


Shambraj Basnet



Main Objectives

Our Main Objectives


Unity: To unite scientists, medical doctors, experts, law professionals etc. who are working in the field of forensic science in Nepal so as to uphold their respect & dignity and to protect their professional rights & interests.


Investigate: To investigate on forensic issues and enrich knowledge on forensics.

Aware to the people : To aware public about the importance of forensics in crime investigation and judicial system through advertisement and publication

Conduct programs: To organize and conduct national and international conferences, scientific & technical meetings, seminars, interactions, lectures etc.

Maintain relation: To maintain relation with national and international forensics related organizations.

Give forensics opinion: To provide scientific opinion and explanations on forensics issue to persons, courts, government, organizations and any other concerned persons after conducting necessary inquiry and investigation.

Training: To provide training with aim to produce competent manpower in the field of forensics