Skip to content

Constitutional Regulation of Forensic Evidence

Journal: Washington and Lee Law Review
Published: 2018
Primary Author: Brandon Garrett

In this Essay, I describe how despite decades of missed opportunities to adequately regulate forensics, in recent rulings the Supreme Court and lower courts increasingly focus on sound litigation of forensics. In an era of plea bargaining, the accuracy of forensic analysis depends far less on cross-examination at trial, and far more on sound lab techniques, full disclosure of strengths and limitations of forensic evidence to prosecutors and the defense, and careful litigation. The Sixth Amendment and the Due Process Clauses are emerging as promising constitutional sources for improved regulation of forensics, including through ineffective assistance of counsel and Brady v. Maryland rulings focusing on investigations and plea bargains, as well as the general due process guarantee of a fair trial.

Related Resources

Blind Testing in Firearms Examination: Preliminary Results, Benefits, Limitations, and Future Directions

Blind Testing in Firearms Examination: Preliminary Results, Benefits, Limitations, and Future Directions

This CSAFE webinar was held on June 23, 2022. Presenters: Maddisen Neuman Quality / Research Associate, Houston Forensic Science Center   Presentation Description: Open proficiency tests created by external vendors…
Surveying Practicing Firearm Examiners

Surveying Practicing Firearm Examiners

A sample (n = 79) of practicing firearm and toolmark examiners was queried about casework as well as their views about the potential role that statistics might play in future…
Blind testing in firearms: Preliminary results from a blind quality control program

Blind testing in firearms: Preliminary results from a blind quality control program

Open proficiency tests meet accreditation requirements and measure examiner competence but may not represent actual casework. In December 2015, the Houston Forensic Science Center began a blind quality control program…
Extracting Case-Specific Data from Validation Studies

Extracting Case-Specific Data from Validation Studies

This CSAFE webinar was held on May 10, 2022. Presenters: Steve Lund Statistical Engineering Division, NIST Hari Iyer Statistical Engineering Division, NIST Presentation Description: The legal and scientific communities agree…