Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Putting the Science Back in Forensic Science

It would not be unreasonable to think that the rules for chemical testing in Illinois DUI cases are a function of rigorous science governed by an agency with some scientific auspices.  Indeed, it used to be that the Illinois Department of Public Health was charged with the responsibility for making and enforcing these administrative rules governing breath tests, blood test and urine tests.  It used to be that way.

 But for the last decade or so, the rules for how these so-called scientific test have been written and administered by . . . wait for it . . .the Illinois State Police.  It is not hard to see why DUI lawyers like myself have equated this regime to putting the proverbial Fox in charge of guarding the proverbial Chicken Coop.  Over this period the ISP has consistently amended these rules in a way that has less to do with scientifc method and more to do with making life very easy for prosecutors and law enforcement. 

In recent weeks the Justice Department has rolled out a sweeping review of some giant scientific problems in FBI crime labs.  So if those fancy g-men at the vaunted FBI can't get scientifc testing to be...well...scientific, what are the odds that the Illinois State Police get the science right beyond a reasonable doubt in the roughly 40,000 Illinois DUI cases every year?

Check out more on the Justice Department's review at the Washington Post's site.

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