An influential scientific commission in Texas called Friday for a halt to the use of bite-mark identifications in criminal trials. After a six-month investigation the Texas Forensic Science Commission recommended excluding bite-mark testimony, the first of its kind from any official state or federal body. The commission said, when appropriate, convicts and their defense lawyers would be notified whether to pursue new trials or exonerations. Specialists used to claim that they could reliably match tooth patterns to a defendant in criminal cases involving bites. The malleability of human tissue, and discrepancy in wound patterns from the same teeth can differ making the results of bit mark analysis very unscientific. Several people convicted based on this evidence were later exonerated by DNA testing. In one study presented to the Texas commission, a panel of leading forensic dentists studied photographs of purported bit wounds and in most cases could not even agree whether the marks were caused by human teeth. This new call to exclude bite mark evidence in criminal cases has huge implications. Those already convicted on bite mark evidence will need new trials. We can assume that several innocent people across the country were convicted on this faulty evidence. What other types of evidence will later be exonerated? The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense and assault defense. If you have been charged with a Misdemeanor, Felony, assault, or any other crime, call our office for a free consultation.
Cite: Erik Eckholm, The New York Times, February 12, 2016