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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

What can the criminal justice system do when "good" science goes bad? This article provides an answer to that question in three parts. First, this article looks at the inability of certain fields of forensic science to produce reliable results. Second, it discusses problems with the current methods of challenging convictions based on unreliable science. Finally, it proposes a new framework to better enable prisoners to seek review of such convictions. What this article does not do is propose ways to prevent wrongful convictions in the future. We recognize that many issues, including the standards governing the admissibility of forensic evidence and internal problems in forensic laboratories, will need to be addressed in order to protect innocent defendants from being convicted in the first instance. We propose a way to confront faulty forensics retrospectively, by providing an avenue to relief for the many current prisoners who were convicted based on misleading scientific evidence.

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