Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System
by Fabricant, M. Chris







Part I Virginia V. Keith Allen Harward & The Rise Of Junk Science
One Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System
26(2)
Two The Dentist as Forensic Scientist
28(5)
Three Credentials, Case Law, and Ted Bundy
33(21)
Four Virulence
54(9)
Five Lethal Nonsense
63(3)
Six Junk Science in the Supreme Court
66(5)
Seven Life, Liberty, and Daubert
71(24)
Part II Texas V. Steven Mark Chaney & The Dna Revolution
One The Innocence Project
95(5)
Two The National Academy of Sciences Hearings
100(38)
Three Steven Chaney's Path Forward
138(6)
Four The Thirty-Eight Words that Moved the Junk Science Debate into Criminal Courts
144(8)
Five The Principle of Finality in the Age of Mass Incarceration
152(4)
Six Denying Innocence
156(6)
Seven Executing the Innocent
162(21)
Eight Steven Chaney, Back on the Chain
183(10)
Nine Status Quo
193(17)
Part III Mississippi V. Eddie Lee Howard & A Junk Science Reckoning (Of Sorts)
One A Junk Science Recall
210(10)
Two The First Shots of the Bite Mark Wars
220(12)
Three Steven Chaney's New Lawyers
232(9)
Four Keith Harward's Lost Lottery Ticket
241(6)
Five The Bite Mark Wars Get Nasty
247(9)
Six Steven Chaney's New Prosecutors
256(16)
Seven Keith Harward's Checkmate
272(29)
Part IV Eddie Lee Howard, Steven Mark Chaney & The Dentists' Last Stand
One Our Heroes
301(9)
Two The Texas Forensic Science Commission Hearings
310(11)
Three Steven Chaney Faces His Trial Prosecutor
321(8)
Epilogue329(4)
Acknowledgments333(2)
Notes335


"From CSI to Forensic Files to the celebrated reputation of the FBI crime lab, forensic scientists have long been mythologized in American popular culture as infallible crime solvers. Juries put their faith in "expert witnesses" and innocent people have been executed as a result. Innocent people are still on death row today, condemned by junk science. In 2012, the Innocence Project began searching for prisoners convicted by junk science, and three men, each convicted of capital murder, became M. Chris Fabricant's clients. Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System chronicles the fights to overturn their wrongful convictions and to end the use of the "science" that destroyed their lives. Weaving together courtroom battles from Mississippi to Texas to New York City and beyond, Fabricant takes the reader on a journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role forensic science plays in maintaining the status quo. At turns gripping, enraging, illuminating, and moving, Junk Science is a meticulously researched insider's perspective of the American criminal justice system. Previously untold stories of wrongful executions, corrupt prosecutors, and quackery masquerading as science animate Fabricant's true crime narrative." -





M. CHRIS FABRICANT is the Innocence Project’s Director of Strategic Litigation and one of the nation’s leading experts on forensic sciences and the criminal justice system. Fabricant is featured in the Netflix documentary The Innocence Files and his public commentary has been published in virtually every major media outlet. A former public defender and clinical law professor, Fabricant brings to his writing over two decades of experience ranging from litigating death penalty cases in the Deep South to misdemeanors in the South Bronx. Born in New York City and raised in Sedona, Arizona, Fabricant has lived in Brooklyn since graduating from George Washington University Law School in 1997.





In American media, forensic science is portrayed as an infallible hero of justice. A miniscule piece of evidence, a spatter of blood or a single thread of fiber, is found by a dogged detective, the bad guy is locked up, and justice is served. In reality, forensic science has ruined the lives of many innocent people and contributes to systemic oppression of the impoverished and people of color. Much of the so-called science presented at trials has not been peer reviewed, and the experts testifying have few to no credentials. Author Fabricant details the many problems with fiber evidence, blood splatter, bite-mark identification, and other common forms of forensic investigation. The crux of Fabricant's book is his experience as a lawyer for the Innocence Project. He shares the heartbreaking stories of people who spent years on death row, wrongfully convicted with shoddy evidence, and the legal challenges of securing their freedom. Readers are given an inside look at the corrupt system that made forensic science king. Eye-opening, endlessly engaging, and equally infuriating-this book is a must-read. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.





In American media, forensic science is portrayed as an infallible hero of justice. A miniscule piece of evidence, a spatter of blood or a single thread of fiber, is found by a dogged detective, the bad guy is locked up, and justice is served. In reality, forensic science has ruined the lives of many innocent people and contributes to systemic oppression of the impoverished and people of color. Much of the so-called science presented at trials has not been peer reviewed, and the experts testifying have few to no credentials. Author Fabricant details the many problems with fiber evidence, blood splatter, bite-mark identification, and other common forms of forensic investigation. The crux of Fabricant's book is his experience as a lawyer for the Innocence Project. He shares the heartbreaking stories of people who spent years on death row, wrongfully convicted with shoddy evidence, and the legal challenges of securing their freedom. Readers are given an inside look at the corrupt system that made forensic science king. Eye-opening, endlessly engaging, and equally infuriating-this book is a must-read. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.





A chilling account of forensic science-beloved of prosecutors, judges, and TV writers but often wildly inaccurate. Fabricant, the Innocence Project's Director of Strategic Litigation, points out that before pharmaceutical companies can market a drug, they must prove that it works. Forensic science, on the other hand, is entirely unregulated. When allowing "experts" to testify, a judge is not required to rule on their expertise, only on legal precedent. Fabricant recounts cases of convictions and the junk science involved. Perhaps the most outrageous is bite mark analysis, but readers-especially those fond of TV detectives and their infallible crime labs-will be flabbergasted by his list of forensic techniques long used by labs, including the FBI's, and proclaimed by highly paid "expert witnesses" that, when investigated by competent researchers, turn out to be unreliable or worthless. These include arson investigation; hair and fiber microscopy; lie detector tests; voice spectrometry; and analyses of handwriting, bloodstains, shoe and tire prints, and bullet lead. Even fingerprints do not come out unscathed in Fabricant's rigorous investigation. In 2009, after years of hearings and testimony by genuine experts, the National Academy of Sciences issued a massive 300-page report documenting the worthlessness of junk science that outraged the forensic establishment. Prosecutors and district attorneys downplay the findings because almost all are elected officials, and getting convictions keeps them in office. The report is not law, so they and judges often ignore it, and juries "tend to believe what prosecutors tell them." The author's case reports and denunciation of junk science make fascinating reading, but this is not a story with a happy ending. As Fabricant shows, Americans seem obsessed with punishing evildoers regardless of the fallout, and their elected officials loudly proclaim agreement. The rate of incarceration in the U.S. is by far the highest in the world, disproportionately affecting Black Americans, who are "incarcerated at five times the rate of white people." A brilliant rebuttal of junk science in the courtroom. Copyright Kirkus 2022 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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