Fingerprints and Miscarriages of Justice: 'Other' Types of Error and a Post-Conviction Right to Database Searching - 5 July 2018 Much of what has been written about the role of friction ridge (“fingerprint”) evidence and miscarriages of justice has focused, understandably, on erroneous identifications, cases in which a crime scene print is erroneously attributed to a suspect (or, more rarely, a victim). This Article, co-written by Registry Director Simon Cole, undertakes a systematic and comprehensive examination of “other” types of error in friction ridge analysis and how they can, and have, contributed to miscarriages of justice. These errors include “missed identifications” and well as “missed exclusions.”
Strengths and Limitations of Forensic Science: What DNA Exonerations Have Taught Us and Where to Go From Here - December 2016The criminal justice system has historically accepted forensic science testimony with great deference and trust. After all, scientists are intellectually curious experts with specialized training who make dispassionate observations about the laws of nature. However, over the past 25 years, post-conviction deoxyribonucleic acid ("DNA") testing has revealed the limitations of scientific evidence by conclusively proving innocence in cases in which forensic analysts had previously presented evidence of guilt. In this way, DNA exoneration cases have prompted a more critical evaluation of forensic science in general. Read more.
Forensic Science and Wrongful Convictions: From Exposer to Contributor to Corrector - June 6, 2012Brandon Garrett's book, Convicting the Innocent, makes a number of important contributions to the scholarly and public discourse on miscarriages of justice. In this essay, I will focus on the contribution that is most related to my own reserarch interests: its contribution to our understanding of the relationship between forensic science and miscarriages of justice. Read more.
Invalid Forensic Science Testimony and Wrongful Convictions - March 2009This is the first study to explore the forensic science testimony by prosecution experts in the trials of innocent persons, all convicted of serious crimes, who were later exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing. Trial transcripts were sought for all 156 exonerees identified as having trial testimony by forensic analysts, of which 137 were located and reviewed. These trials most commonly included testimony concerning serological analysis and microscopic hair comparison, but some included bite mark, shoe print, soil, fiber, and fingerprint comparisons, and several included DNA testing. Read more.
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.
We welcome new information from any source about exonerations already on our list and about cases not in the Registry that might be exonerations.