Attorney urges Illinois to review convictions based on debunked science

In the past few years, we have seen an enormous change in forensic science and technology.  In many cases, techniques that were commonplace in the past have been shown to be found to be lacking by science and therefore not suitable to be used. (See The McShane Firm secures the release of a man after 35 years who was convicted of an arson based on debunked forensic evidence.)

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Recently an attorney in Illinois has called for the State to review convictions which were based on unreliable forensic methods such as hair microscopy.

Joshua Tepfer Urges Illinois to Review Convictions Based on Debunked Science

Posted: October 15, 2015   4:55 PM

Joshua Tepfer Urges Illinois to Review Convictions Based on Debunked Science

In an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday, Exoneration Project attorney Joshua Tepfer called for Illinois to review convictions in which debunked forensic methods were used as evidence in trial.

Tepfer cited the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report, Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, which put into question the effectiveness of many forensic methods commonly used in criminal investigations, such as hair microscopy and bite mark analysis. The report discussed how the reliance upon these unreliable and scientifically unproved methods has resulted in many wrongful convictions.

Tepfer noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s review of cases involving microscopic hair analysis testimony from its own experts has resulted in exonerations, including that of Santae Tribble. Tepfer suggests that the state of Illinois follow the example of Texas and form a commission to review individual cases in which unreliable forensic methods were used. He says that the state could assign this task to the existing Illinois Laboratory Advisory Committee, since it is currently dormant and hasn’t met in six years.

Tepfer calls on those within the state’s criminal justice system to take action. He writes: “This is a problem in the criminal justice system that was identified many years ago yet never addressed. Those of us working in the Illinois criminal justice system need to come together to begin to address it.”

Joshua Tepfer is an attorney for the Exoneration Project and a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

Read the op-ed here.

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Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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