April 19, 2010
Gianneli on the Unreliability of Microscopic Hair AnalysisPaul C. Giannelli (Case Western Reserve University School of Law) has posted Microscopic Hair Comparisons: A Cautionary Tale on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In addition, a federal district court in 1995 observed: “Although the hair expert may have followed procedures accepted in the community of hair experts, the human hair comparison results in this case were, nonetheless, scientifically unreliable.” The following year, two commentators wrote: “If the purveyors of this dubious science cannot do a better job of validating hair analysis than they have done so far, forensic hair comparison analysis should be excluded altogether from criminal trials.” Yet, courts continued to admit expert testimony based on this technique. A 2005 decision noted that “[t]he overwhelming majority of courts have deemed such evidence admissible.”
This article examines the judicial history of microscopic hair analysis, including its role in several wrongful convictions. It discusses the misuse and the abuse of hair evidence, and the failure to establish an empirical basis for the technique. In sum, hair evidence provides a cautionary tale for other forensic techniques.
April 19, 2010 | Permalink