The National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a landmark report on forensic science in February 2009. In the long run, the report’s recommendations, if adopted, would benefit law enforcement and prosecutors. The recommendations would allow forensic science to develop a strong scientific basis and limit evidentiary challenges regarding the reliability of forensic evidence. In keeping with its congressional charge, however, the NRC Committee did not directly address admissibility issues. Nevertheless, given its content, the report will inevitably be cited in criminal cases. Indeed, within months, the United States Supreme Court cited the report, noting that “[s]erious deficiencies have been found in the forensic evidence used in criminal trials.” Defense attorneys would be derelict if they did not use it, and prosecutors will have no choice but to respond to defense arguments. This essay examines how courts may respond to the NRC Report in the near future.


Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, Forensic Science, National Institute of Forensic Science, Admissibility, Evidence, Criminal Law

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50 Jurimetrics 53 (2009)


COinS Paul C. Giannelli Faculty Bio