CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On TV crime shows like “CSI,” “NCIS” and “Law & Order,” science gets the bad guys.........In real life, “science” often ensnares the innocent.
Former NYPD Detective Harry Houck gets annoyed when TV shows make forensic science look infallible.
“You watch a detective get down and look at a body (and say), ‘He’s been dead for three hours now. … (H)e ate dinner four hours ago,'” scoffs Houck. “I can’t do that.”
On TV, experts identify killers by their bite marks. In real life, experts claim they can do that.
The TV show “Cold Case Files” covered the trial of Alfred Swinton. He was convicted of murder because a bite-mark expert said his teeth matched a bite on the victim.
But Swinton was innocent. Lawyer Chris Fabricant helped get him released from jail by doing a DNA test, a much more reliable, less subjective form of science.
Fabricant scoffs at bite-mark testimony: “The doctor was just wrong. It’s an unreliable technique.”
The more room there is for an expert witness’ unique interpretation of the data, the more that can go wrong, says Fabricant. “A bite mark is similar to you and I looking at a cloud. I say to you, ‘John, doesn’t that cloud look like a rabbit?’ And you say, ‘Yeah, Chris, I think that does look like a rabbit.'”
That kind of junk science puts innocent people in jail.