“I was saying, ‘This can’t be happening. You can’t convict somebody on similarities, perhaps or maybes,'” Barnes said.
He spent the next 20 years in prison before DNA testing exonerated him, becoming one of hundreds of people convicted in whole or in part on forensic science that has come under fire during the past decade.
Some of that science — analysis of bite marks, latent fingerprints, firearms identification, burn patterns in arson investigations, footwear patterns and tire treads — was once considered sound, but is now being denounced by some lawyers and scientists who say it has not been studied enough to prove its reliability and in some cases has led to wrongful convictions.
Even so, judges nationwide continue to admit such evidence regularly.
“Courts — unlike scientists — rely too heavily on precedent and not enough on the progress of science,” said Christopher Fabricant, director of strategic litigation for the Innocence Project. “At some point, we have to acknowledge that precedent has to be overruled by scientific reality.”
via By DENISE LAVOIE // Fallen forensics: Judges routinely allow disavowed science