2208 Forensic Science in the Courts: Issues and Solutions

Saturday, February 20, 2010: 8:50 AM
Room 7B (San Diego Convention Center)
Larry A. Hammond , Osborn Maledon, P.A., Phoenix, AZ
The publication in February of this year (2009) of the Report of the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community is a bell- weather moment in the history of forensic science’s contributions to the workings of our criminal justice system.  The Committee’s Recommendations are deserving of close attention, but several of the Committee’s observations as summarized in the Report merit the thought of every participant in our judicial processes. My remarks will address the question whether there are changes and improvements that can be addressed and implemented expeditiously in an environment in which funding for our courts, crime labs, prosecutors and defense are facing limitations.  I hope to describe the partial, but exciting, answer to that question unfolding in ArizonaArizona is one excellent example of a State with real challenges with funding, but with a robust determination to undertake steps to improve our forensic science connections to the courts.  Specifically, my remarks will describe the steps in the creation of a State Supreme Court Committee to be recommended by our Arizona Attorney General, to address head-on and to study seriously many of the problems identified in the NAS Report. I hope also to compare what we are doing in Arizona with not dissimilar efforts in other States, including California, North Carolina and Texas.  I will also describe the progress made over the last year in Arizona’s efforts to achieve a partnership between our innocence project (the Arizona Justice Project) and the prosecutorial and law enforcement communities to address DNA issues.  As in other States, the work done on DNA cases has illuminated a host of problems and is directing our State to much needed improvements in criminal justice.