Standards are needed for post-conviction evidence reviews, writes forensic science expert

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In his new Science 2.0 "Keeping the Gate" blog, forensic expert John M. Collins Jr. recommends professional standards for post-conviction evidence reviews.

John M. Collins Jr.

It is time to establish standards of professional practice and conduct for those engaged in the post-conviction review of scientific evidence and the reporting of their results, either in the courtroom or in the press.

In a new "Keeping the Gate" blog post published at Science 2.0, forensic science expert John M. Collins Jr. argued that standards of professional care and conduct are needed for the review of scientific evidence in post-conviction litigation.

"It is time to establish standards of professional practice and conduct for those engaged in the post-conviction review of scientific evidence and the reporting of their results, either in the courtroom or in the press," Collins wrote. "This would build much needed confidence in the practice of post-conviction litigation, elevating its stature from activism to professionalism."

Collins' article, Standards are needed for post-conviction review of scientific evidence, came on the heels of a recent Washington Post article about the review of FBI hair comparisons prior to 2000.

Collins was critical of a comment by the Innocence Project describing the FBI's use of hair evidence as "a complete disaster."

The FBI previously announced its partnership with the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in reviewing past hair comparisons using agreed upon criteria.

"It is reasonable and responsible to study past convictions that may have precipitated from questionable scientific evidence," Collins explained. "But our justice system should encourage restraint and professionalism in how the process is conducted."

Collins, who spent 20 years in the forensic laboratory sciences, has written previously on the issues surrounding the review of scientific evidence in seeking post-conviction relief. In 2009, he coauthored The Wrongful Conviction of Forensic Science, which demonstrated problems with how post-conviction activists review and evaluate scientific evidence.

His most recent article was published on April 19, 2015 at Science 2.0.

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John Collins
Forensic Foundations Group
+1 5178034063
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John M. Collins Jr.