Tag Archives: firearms

Forensic Science: A Time of Transformation (NIJ)

This is not a long article, but I found parts of it quite interesting.  http://nij.gov/journals/277/pages/forensics.aspx

‘…the “growing debate among the scientific and legal communities” regarding the use of the terms “identification” or “individualization” in court to associate “an item of evidence to a specific known source.”‘

‘…the dilemma this scientific transition is causing for veteran forensics experts.  “Examiners in some forensic science disciplines have been trained that if you aren’t certain about your result, you don’t say anything,”‘

‘”These people have been trained another way, and some view this effort as ‘You’re asking me to do a less competent job, because you’re asking me to pretend I’m uncertain when I’m certain, and you’re asking me to testify when I’m not certain.’

Intent Behind the Bullet

by D.H. Garrison, Jr.

Originally published in the Association of Firearm Toolmark Examiners Journal, Oct. 1993.

Just because a shot was fired, and just because someone was injured or died as a result of the shooting, and just because a shooting reconstruction was completed…this does not mean that the expert can render an opinion about the intent behind the bullet thus fired.

While many an attorney, whether prosecution or defense, wants to “prove” the intent or lack thereof to a jury, and sometimes tries to use a expert witness to accomplish that end, this does not mean that the shooting reconstruction expert has any scientific basis whatsoever to state an opinion as to what was or was not the intention of the shooter at the moment of the shooting. Intent, after all, is usually an “ultimate issue” and, thus, the purview of the jury, the finders of fact, and cannot properly be addressed by the expert.[1] Continue reading