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Consensus on validation of forensic voice comparison

Journal: Science & Justice
Published: 2021
Primary Author: Geoffrey Stewart Morrison
Secondary Authors: Ewald Enzinger, Vincent Hughes, Michael Jessen, Didier Meuwly, Cedric Neumann, S. Planting, William C. Thompson, David van der Vloed, Rolf J.F. Ypma, Cuiling Zhang
Research Area: Statistics

Since the 1960s, there have been calls for forensic voice comparison to be empirically validated under casework conditions. Since around 2000, there have been an increasing number of researchers and practitioners who conduct forensic-voice-comparison research and casework within the likelihood-ratio framework. In recent years, this community of researchers and practitioners has made substantial progress toward validation under casework conditions becoming a standard part of practice: Procedures for conducting validation have been developed, along with graphics and metrics for representing the results, and an increasing number of papers are being published that include empirical validation of forensic-voice-comparison systems under conditions reflecting casework conditions. An outstanding question, however, is: In the context of a case, given the results of an empirical validation of a forensic-voice-comparison system, how can one decide whether the system is good enough for its output to be used in court? This paper provides a statement of consensus developed in response to this question. Contributors included individuals who had knowledge and experience of validating forensic-voice comparison systems in research and/or casework contexts, and individuals who had actually presented validation results to courts. They also included individuals who could bring a legal perspective on these matters, and individuals with knowledge and experience of validation in forensic science more broadly. We provide recommendations on what practitioners should do when conducting evaluations and validations, and what they should present to the court. Although our focus is explicitly on forensic voice comparison, we hope that this contribution will be of interest to an audience concerned with validation in forensic science more broadly. Although not written specifically for a legal audience, we hope that this contribution will still be of interest to lawyers.

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