October 31, 2012 -
The DC appeals court has limited the role that a 2009 report on forensic sciences can play in criminal proceedings and appeals.
A three-judge appellate panel argued found that sections of a report, which was mandated by Congress, were not considered authoritative and could not be used to question experts.
Defense lawyers across the United States have used the forensic sciences report, which was published by the National Research Council of the National Academies, to challenge the reliability of certain types of forensic evidence in criminal cases.
The report is critical of the reliability of forensic techniques besides DNA testing.
Prosecutors however have argued that the report should not have been considered in court at the same level as expert testimony. The court agreed, noting that the appellant failed to present any evidence that the section on fingerprint analysis in the report was a “reliable authority” and accepted by the scientific community.
The appeal was based on the conviction of Rashaun Gee, who was accused of breaking into a Washington, DC home in 2008 and repeatedly stabbing and attempting to sexually assault one of its female residents.