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Monday morning’s dubious forensic science links

Start your week with a couple of stories to will remind you that you can never be too skeptical.

First, a frightening and sobering story from Harris County, Texas (i.e., Houston) about trusting the results of those drug tests cops do in the field, which (at least in Harris County) often led innocent defendants to take plea deals, much to their detriment. As the former Houston police chief observes in the article, “Officers shouldn’t collect and test their own evidence, period. I don’t care whether that’s cocaine, blood, hair.” Amen.

And speaking of Harris County, read this very good recent primer on the problems—yes, the problems—with the advances in the use of DNA evidence. When it comes to results extrapolated from small amounts of material and/or from mixtures of multiple sources, the acronym “DNA” might really stand for “Do Not Accept.”

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