The problem of shaky or flawed forensic science evidence is about much more than wrongful conviction of the innocent. It also means that the system fails to identify the truly guilty. Criminal cases are increasingly science-dependent, and the traditional forensic sciences have played a critical role in the way we dispense justice. To make forensic science evidence more reliable, a wide range of reforms must take place.
Oct. 30, 2015 – Tabitha A. Scruggs was convicted for burglary, and the court imposed a $250 DNA surcharge on her at her sentencing. Scruggs filed a motion asking for the $250 DNA surcharge to be vacated, as she felt it was punitive and violated the ex post facto clauses of the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitutions.
Mistakenly believing that Richard Houghton was violating the law while driving with a missing front license plate and a dangling air freshener and GPS system slightly obstructing his view, police made a traffic stop and uncovered marijuana in a subsequent vehicle search. Recently, the state supreme court upheld the search.
Hatem Shata, an Egyptian national, argued that his lawyer gave him bad advice when he said a guilty plea would trigger a “strong chance” of deportation instead of telling him deportation was a certainty. Recently, the state supreme court ruled that counsel’s advice was not deficient, rejecting Shata’s request for a plea withdrawal.
Ralph Armstrong spent almost 30 years in prison before a new trial was ordered in his murder-rape case, which was later dismissed. Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that Armstrong can pursue his civil lawsuit against the prosecutor and crime lab techs, accused of destroying evidence in bad faith.