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.
A state appeals court has rejected a physician’s claim that another physician’s testimony about her standard of prenatal and delivery care should have been excluded at trial, concluding the testimony met the standard governing admissibility of expert test imony met the standard governing admissibility of expert testimony.
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.
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.
Even with the improvement of breath-test technology, concerns remain about the reliability of preliminary breath test (PBT) results. Thus, the Wisconsin Legislature and Supreme Court have erected barriers to using the results at trial as evidence of defendants’ intoxication. Recent court decisions provide guidance when litigating these matters.