Professional Issues in Forensic Science
eBook - ePub

Professional Issues in Forensic Science

Max M. Houck

  1. 390 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (adapté aux mobiles)
  4. Disponible sur iOS et Android
eBook - ePub

Professional Issues in Forensic Science

Max M. Houck

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À propos de ce livre

Professional Issues in Forensic Science will introduce students to various topics they will encounter within the field of Forensic Science. Legal implications within the field will focus on expert witness testimony and procedural rules defined by both legislative statute and court decisions. These decisions affect the collection, analysis, and court admissibility of scientific evidence, such as the Frye and Daubert standards and the Federal Rules of Evidence. Existing and pending Forensic Science legislation will be covered, including laws governing state and national DNA databases. Ethical concerns stemming from the day-to-day balancing of competing priorities encountered by the forensic student will be discussed. Such competing priorities may cause conflicts between good scientific practice and the need to expedite work, meet legal requirements, and satisfy client's wishes. The role of individual morality in Forensic Science and competing ethical standards between state and defense experts will be addressed. Examinations of ethical guidelines issued by various professional forensic organizations will be conducted. Students will be presented with examples of ethical dilemmas for comment and resolution. The management of crime laboratories will provide discussion on quality assurance/quality control practices and the standards required by the accreditation of laboratories and those proposed by Scientific Working Groups in Forensic Science. The national Academy of Sciences report on Strengthening Forensic Science will be examined to determine the impact of the field.

Professional Issues in Forensic Science is a core topic taught in forensic science programs. This volume will be an essential advanced text for academics and an excellent reference for the newly practicing forensic scientist. It will also fit strategically and cluster well with our other forensic science titles addressing professional issues.

  • Introduces readers to various topics they will encounter within the field of Forensic Science
  • Covers legal issues, accreditation and certification, proper analysis, education and training, and management issues
  • Includes a section on professional organizations and groups, both in the U.S. and Internationally
  • Incorporates effective pedagogy, key terms, review questions, discussion question and additional reading suggestions

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Academic Press
Section 1


Forensic science is about 100 years old, depending on how the accomplishments are counted. That is relatively young, for a science; chemistry goes back to at least 1661 with the publication of Boyle's The Sceptical Chymist, for example. Forensic science is only now beginning to delve into its methods and history to construct the scaffolding of a guiding philosophy. This foundation will be critically important as forensic research and operations moves forward, but it will take several generations of forensic scientists before it becomes sturdy and robust.

History of Forensic Sciences

J. Hebrard Forensic and Criminal Intelligence Agency of the French Gendarmerie, Paris, France
F. Daoust Institut de recherche criminelle de la gendarmerie nationale, Paris, France


Assessing the not-so-young history of forensic science enlightens the various concepts of proof, inducing a requested overwhelming place of science at trial. But the debate is still active today on this still evolving body of knowledge, shaken by the revolution of the information technology and the position of DNA within the forensic field.
Whatever the panel of various disciplines collated into the general term of forensic sciences, the authors underline that interpretation under controlled process of the analytical chain is the next challenge facing forensics.


Criminalistics; DNA; Forensic science; History; Information technology; Interpretation; Pioneers
This article is a revision of the previous edition article by D. Wielbo, volume 3, pp. 1070–1075, © 2000, Elsevier Ltd.


Deoxyribonucleic acid: restriction fragment length polymorphism.
Forensic science is the application of sciences pertaining to the law. It requires the complementary interaction of a wide range of scientific specialties and disciplines. The term “criminalistics” is often used interchangeably with the term forensic science. According to the American Board of Criminalistics, criminalistics is defined as the profession and scientific discipline directed to the recognition, identification, individualization, and evaluation of physical evidence by application of the physical and natural sciences to law–science matters. The history of forensic science—i.e., applying “scientific” principles to legal questions—has a long and intriguing history.
One of the oldest known reference to a specific forensic case-solving method dates back to the Chinese Quin dynasty (721–707 BC). The account of this case was found in a bamboo tablet, which was, in turn, found in a tomb. The tablet's contents refer to “examination of tangible proof regarding serious offenses.” However, before such a legal and scientific basis was used to solve cases, evidence was assessed and retained in immaterial, esoteric, magical, or spiritual ways, which varied from one society to another. Even institutional evidence has long been under the influence of religions and beliefs. Evidence was often drawn from God's judgment: through certain tests, a person suspected of a crime was found guilty or innocent. For instance, the judicial duel and the cross-ordeal made it possible to decide between two opposed parties, by assuming that God had given his support to the winner of the test. Whenever only one person was suspected of a crime, other ordeals determined, through various physical tests, whether that person was guilty or innocent according to the success or failure of the test. Evidence through God's judgment is found throughout history, in Hammurabi's code of laws in Mesopotamia, in ancient Egypt, or in Europe with the Francs and the Burgondes.
Despite its godly origin, this method of obtaining evidence turned out to be limited, and societies turned to confession and testimony in order to prove offenses. This type of evidence, however, which requires that the culprit acknowledge his or her offense, is deemed so important that it is implemented through complex, detailed, and formal procedures.
At the same time, experts were increasingly consulted to enlighten certain aspects of a case. Thus, “barbers–physicians” were required to give their opinions on the circumstances of someone's demise: for example, to establish whether the decedent could have been poisoned or if the decedent's body bore suspicious traces. Weapons manufacturers were sometimes used in a similar way. As early as the sixteenth century, a guild of handwriting experts was created in France to provide courts with their analysis regarding forgery issues. Even if confession and testimony were the outcome of crime investigation and remained at the heart of criminal proceedings, technical and scientific expertise was introduced in the trial out of necessity. In the eighteenth century, the United States of America started resorting to experts “with a specific training and background” that jury members could not have.
Thus, there was a progressive rise of the technical and scientific field on the legal scene; however, this expertise was used to support evidence obtained through confession, not to replace it. Moreover, each technical and scientific discipline followed its own path with no regard to others, thus building up walls, which still exist in many countries, such as the one between forensic pathology and forensic sciences.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, under the influence of a group of forensic pathologists and scientists, a new set of ideas and common views about forensic science and the law were introduced. Young industrial societies were not satisfied with confession anymore: sciences had to break into the investigation process and the criminal trial in order to reinforce the judicial system. These pioneers spread forensic sciences thanks to a criminological approach and the issue of crime repetition (also known as recidivism).
Because legal systems then in force were already harsher toward second offenders than first ones, identifying second offenders was a major issue. Alphonse Bertillon was hired in the 1870s by the Paris police department as a bookkeeper to write down criminal facts, names, and a brief description of the arrested suspects. He quickly realized that the same people were frequently arrested by the police department under different names. Using his father's work as an anthropologist (Dr Louis Adolphe Bertillon was a professor at the Paris School of Anthropology), Alphonse Bertillon noticed the wide range of body measurements among individuals. He then created a system of measurements and photographs in order to identify second offenders. This system was tested within the Paris police department from 1882 onward and officially set up in 1888, almost 10 years after it was created. Afterward, criminal anthropometry was implemented all over the world and Bertillon's method had its hour of glory.
Bertillon also introduced criminal photography on crime scenes, which drastically changed the way crime scenes were dealt with. The crime scene was no longer ephemeral, it was engraved on photographs, thanks to which traces left on the crime scene could be tracked, recorded, and used. According to Bertillon, one should only rely on physical clues. Many works were carried out, starting in Europe, and contributed to building modern forensic sciences.
In Austria, Hans Gross, an Austrian judge, imposed training in forensic sciences upon lawyers, and, in particular, upon examining magistrates (“juges d'instruction”) as early as 1893. His work was particularly advanced in its design and displays. His training provided judges with an overall view of forensic sciences, from scientific investigations to forensic analyses. Gross always took as a starting point the reconstruction of the crime scene. He was the one to introduce the word “criminalistics.”
In Italy, from 1876 Cesare Lombroso led the way for a whole research movement. Dr Salvatore Ottolenghi covered a wider scientific range (forensic pathology, identification, anthropology, fingerprints, and a large part of psychology). In 1896, he set up a class of “polizia scientifica” and in 1902, he created a “scuola di polizia” (a police academy).
Lombroso's work was questioned by the Lyon school of thought, which included Alexandre Lacassagne, a forensic pathologist, and its student Edmond Locard. They denied any scientific value to stereotyped interpretations (such as considering any person with a tattoo on their skin as a potential offender) and more generally rejected the born criminal theory. While Bertillon had not yet started his job within the Paris police department, Prof. Alexandre Lacassagne combined modern forensic pathology to forensic sciences thanks to the range of his research work. Head of the “Criminal Anthropology Journal” from 1895 to 1914, he displayed his influence and his will to gather all fields of new knowledge. Dr Edmond Locard was the greatest example of the necessary combination of forensic pathology and forensic sciences. In 1910, he founded his own labor...

Table des matiĂšres

  1. Cover image
  2. Title page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Copyright
  5. Editor: Biography
  6. List of Contributors
  7. Foreword
  8. Overview
  9. Section 1. Introduction
  10. Section 2. Analysis
  11. Section 3. Management Issues
  12. Section 4. Accreditation and Certification
  13. Section 5. Education and Training
  14. Section 6. Legal Issues
  15. Section 7. Professional Organizations and Groups
  16. Index