The Admissibility Of Bite Mark Evidence Law Essay

Since Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 ( D.C. Cir. 1923 ) , 80 seven old ages ago, tribunals have been challenged in covering with criterions of grounds as they relate to the admissibility of adept testimony. In Frye, an adept informant gave grounds that Frye was guiltless of the offense to which he was charged based on the consequences of his blood force per unit area proving ( a pre-cursor to present twenty-four hours polygraph trials ) .[ 1 ]The tribunal rejected the grounds of the adept informant. In denying Frye ‘s entreaty, it was the judgement of the tribunal that the grounds of adept informants must be based on established and by and large accepted scientific methods.

Because the scientific discipline was still in its babyhood, the blood force per unit area proving methods used by the expert informant was non widely accepted nor practiced. The usage of blood force per unit area trials were considered experimental, and hence, the scientific discipline was missing general credence.[ 2 ]The tribunal stated: “ Merely when a scientific rule or find crosses the line between the experimental and incontrovertible phases is hard to specify. Somewhere in this dusk zone the evidentiary force of the rule must be recognized, and while tribunals will travel a long manner in acknowledging adept testimony deduced from a good recognized scientific rule or find, the thing from which the tax write-off is made must be sufficiently established to hold gained general credence in the peculiar field in which it belongs. ”[ 3 ]

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The “ general credence ” criterion became the criterion used throughout the tribunals to set up the admissibility of scientific grounds.[ 4 ]That is, until 1975.

In 1975 the passage of the Federal Rules of Evidence ( FRE ) heralded a more expansive position of the regulations of scientific cognition and general credence. The Supreme Court ruled that Frye was excessively inflexible. The tribunal besides ruled that it was the function of the test justice to make up one’s mind if scientific grounds was by and large accepted within scientific circles, and besides, if the grounds was dependable, given the methodological analysis used to obtain it. This put the test justice, and non the scientific community, as the supreme authority, or gatekeeper.

The application of the FRE regulations was uneven as some tribunals adopted the more flexible FRE regulations while others retained the long held, and more rigorous, Frye criterions. In 1993 Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals asked the Supreme Court to do a opinion on the acceptableness of adept testimony. Specifically, they wanted to cognize if the Frye criterion was still primary. In Daubert, adept informants using different methodological analysis came to opposite decisions. The prosecution informant testified that there was no causal relationship between the usage of a pharmaceutical, Bendectin, during gestation and subsequent birth defects. The adept informants for the defence, utilizing different methodological analysis, testified that there was a direct causal relationship between the two. The Supreme Court was asked to make up one’s mind if the Frye criterions have precedency over the Federal Rules of Evidence.[ 5 ]

In the sentiment of the Supreme Court, the FRE replaced Frye and made scientifically ‘generally accepted ‘ one constituent of set uping the admissibility of testimony from adept informants. The tribunal indicated that adept grounds besides had to be relevant to the instance, and, dependable. In kernel the tribunal said that the test justice must look beyond merely the credence of the scientific community with respect to the decisions that are reached. It said that the methodological analysis and nucleus rules are besides of importance. There must be a direct relationship from the methodological analysis employed to the decisions that are specific to the facts. The tribunal stated that the methodological analysis must hold been strictly and extensively tested. If applicable, it must be proven non merely in a research lab scene, but besides be used in existent state of affairss. Further, it must hold been published and capable to peer reappraisal and, any possible border of mistake must be known.[ 6 ]

The tribunals sentiment did non work out any of the issues and concerns raised by Frye: Many provinces still maintained Frye as the criterion to be met, while most now adopted the criterions established in Daubert. Due to the confusion and differing criterions, the tribunal revisited Daubert and, in 2000, Daubert and FRE 702 were amended. Three extra considerations were added. The grounds of adept informants is admissible if:

1 ) it is based on sufficient facts or statistics,

2 ) it is based on the usage of dependable criterions and methodological analysis,

3 ) the facts, criterions, and methodological analysis have been logically applied to the issues at manus.

The tribunals guidelines did n’t wholly make off with the confusion. On the one manus, the methodological analysis used by the expert witnesses was of cardinal importance. However, it could be both scientifically accepted, and, it could still be deemed inadmissible if the test justice ruled the decisions reached did n’t fit the instance.

In Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S.137 ( 1999 ) , the Supreme Court was asked to come to a determination sing how far the function of “ gate-keeper ” should be taken. Specifically, the tribunal was asked to find if the function of gate keeper applied merely to scientific based grounds, or, if it included other classs of adept testimony. The tribunal ruled that FRE 702 did n’t distinguish between scientific and non scientific. Therefore, the tribunal said, that the function of gatekeeper was to make up one’s mind admissibility of any adept informant testimony. What the tribunal did in Frye, Daubert, and Kumho was go forth the test justice to do the best out of the confusion.


In analysing modern bite grade grounds in visible radiation of the Daubert standards, particularly within the context of modern-day judicial positions sing concluding under uncertainness, there remains a challenge in developing any unvarying consensus as to whether bite grade grounds should be admitted.[ 7 ]In Daubert, the tribunal held that four standards could be used to prove the dependability of scientific grounds necessitating adept testimony. There are cardinal issues that inquiry if bite grade grounds should be relied on and whether they meet the standards required by Daubert.

Possibly the first status is met. But, there is important dissension as to whether there is a known rate of mistake or consistence of consequences. And, the scientific discipline has surely non achieved any degree of general credence among scientists in the field. It has been stated by well-thought-of experts in the field that “ no two bite Markss, by the same biter, will be indistinguishable in every manner. ”[ 8 ]It has besides been said by many experts that no two people have the same bite Markss. Our dentitions and gums are separately shaped non merely as a consequence of the alone qualities of our castanetss, dentitions and facial muscular structure, but besides due to the nutrients we eat, growing alterations, and dental work.

While telecasting shows can flex and falsify scientific discipline and leave the feeling that bite grade designation is an exact scientific discipline, the scientific criterions that adept informants employ vary greatly. There is no common criterion. Puting this within the regulations established by the trilogy, if adept methodological analysis could non conform to the four regulations established by Daubert. One could inquire the inquiry why there are so many different criterions in topographic point if so it is a field of exact scientific discipline. “ No population databases set up the frequence of bite-mark forms. Nor is at that place any system of blind, external proficiency proving utilizing realistic theoretical accounts. Mistake rates are unknown. The few trials that have been attempted demonstrate a disturbingly high degree of false positives.[ 9 ]

Fingerprint singularity was non tested until 1996, about 100 old ages after adept informants have given testimony based on their singularity. During the first post-Daubert challenge of adept witness testimony sing the admissibility of fingerprints, the FBI asked Lockheed Martin to prove the singularity of fingerprints. It had ne’er earlier been tested.[ 10 ]

While the survey itself did non run into the Daubert criterion – the methodological analysis was n’t used in the field and since it was n’t published it would non hold had been unfastened to broad equal reappraisal – the decision on the singularity of the fingerprint was accepted and still really much in grounds today. Notwithstanding a serious reappraisal of the survey methodological analysis found it debatable and mistake filled.[ 11 ]To further intensify the uncertainty sing the cogency of bite grade grounds, a recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences provinces that “ there is non sufficient grounds to back up the impression that an expert can fit bite Markss made on human tegument to the teething of a individual individual. ”[ 12 ]The study farther stated “ Unlike the highly well-litigated civil challenges, the condemnable suspect ‘s challenge is normally casual. Even when the most vulnerable forensic sciences-hair microscopy, bite Markss, and handwriting-are attacked, the tribunals routinely affirm admissibility mentioning earlier determinations instead than facts established at a hearing. Defense attorneies by and large fail to construct a challenge with appropriate informants and new informations. Thus, even if inclined to mount a Daubert challenge, they lack the necessity cognition and accomplishments, every bit good as the financess, to win. ”[ 13 ]

In Patterson V Tex. 509 S.W.2d 857, 862 ( Tex. Crim. App. 1974 ) , adept informants for the prosecution indicated that the suspect ‘s dentitions matched Markss found on the victim ‘s organic structure. They farther said that other dentitions, that is, some other individuals dentitions, may besides fit the grade. The appeal tribunal in this instance denied the entreaty, non based on the existent grounds in inquiry, but because they had antecedently admitted similar expert informant testimony in another instance. 72 509 S.W.2d 857, 862 ( Tex. Crim. App. 1974 )

In the Ariz. v. Garrison, 120 Ariz. 255, 585 P.2d 563 ( 1978 ) the adept informant indicated Numberss of a statistical significance to solidify their grounds that the suspect was the lone individual whose teething could fit bite Markss on the victim. Even though it was subsequently established that the statistically important Numberss did n’t arise from standard testing, but from a series of journal articles, the testimony was still allowed.

In Carol Ege V Joan Yukins, Warden United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Bay City. No. 01-10294, the tribunal used the words ‘bunk ‘ and ‘charlatan ‘ to depict the methods and character of the expert informant for the prosecution. Ege was convicted of slaying chiefly based on the expert informant testimony that a grade on the cheek of the victim, was in fact, a bite grade, and asked, based on the 3 plus million local population, if anyone else could fit the ‘bite grade ‘ , he replied to the negative. Of note is that Ege was charged with the slaying some nine old ages after it occurred, even though there was grounds that pointed to other people. In add-on, the asleep organic structure was exhumed, besides nine old ages after the slaying, and it was merely so that a grade identified as liver mortis by other adept informants, was reclassified as a ‘bite grade. While the tribunal acknowledged that the expert witness testimony should hold caused the defence lawyer to raise expostulation, the lawyer did non make so. Had the informant non been subsequently discredited, it is possible that Ege would non hold been successful in this winning this part of the entreaty. Though there was consensus Daubert criterions were non adhered to, this in and of itself was deficient to allow this subdivision of the entreaty.

In People v Wright, No. 179564, 1999 WL 33446496 ( Mich. Ct. App. Apr. 23, 1999 ) , Dr. Warnick, the same adept informant who made a fiasco of the Ege instance above, one time once more postulated statistical grounds as sufficient to bespeak merely one individual could fit the bite Markss in inquiry. His rendering of ‘4.1 billion to one ‘ once more came from a diary, and non from scientific proving. It was found that the survey referenced in the diary was itself flawed and based on each single tooth placement being independent. Having provided testimony that bite Markss could merely hold been made by the suspect, DNA grounds subsequently exonerated him. Notwithstanding this, teeth independence was disproved ; even an abscessed tooth can displace the dentitions on each side of it.[ 14 ]

In People v. Watson, 75 Cal.App.3d 384, 142 Cal. Rptr. 134 ( 1977 ) involved a slaying strong belief where colour slides of bite Markss were held admissible to exemplify adept testimony. Once once more, the criterions established by Daubert were intended to utilize more mensurable methods to set up the admissibility of adept testimony.

In the instance of Peoples v. Johnson, 8 Ill.App.3d 457, 289 N.E.2d 722 ( 1972 ) the suspect was convicted of colza, battery and burglary even though the tooth doctor who took dramatis personaes of his dentitions could n’t place him as the individual from whom he took the dramatis personaes. Once once more, because there was no expostulation at the clip, this was held paramount, non inquiries of competence of the informant.

The tribunal in State of Conn. v. Swinton, 163, did n’t happen that bite grade analyses was debatable. In fact, one could state it was admissible in its mundaneness. The tribunal did take issue though that the informant could n’t explicate how the computing machine imaging package worked, but, finally said that acknowledging the grounds did n’t do any injury because the expert had already provided an sentiment that there was a lucifer before he saw the package generated images.

Peoples v. Marx, 54 Cal.App.3d 100, 126 Cal.Rptr. 350 ( 1975 ) , was the landmark determination on bite Markss in California. It was the first clip 3 dimensional comparings were added to the mix, yet it was non considered to be a new attack, and hence, harmonizing to the tribunal, did non necessitate to conform to the Frye criterion.[ 15 ]The tribunal ruled that the Frye criterion was based on the credence by the general scientific community of new, or novel, scientific discipline. In this case, the tribunal said that the jury did n’t hold to trust on ‘blind faith ‘ as they had the adept informants proving methods and tools to analyze.[ 16 ]

These instances are merely a little figure of instances since Frye and subsequently Daubert and Kumho, wherein the grounds of expert informants has focused on the designation of bite Markss and designation of who made the Markss. Even from this cursory scrutiny, it ‘s apparent that Frye, Daubert, Kumho, and FRE criterions are inconsistent. There is small grounds to demo that these Judgess, as gatekeepers, kept proper attending to the Gatess.

As with the century spread between the origin of fingerprint grounds being accepted in tribunals to formalize fingerprinting singularity, so excessively must we inquire why there is no push by the tribunal to solidify the pattern of bite grade analyses as a feasible evidentiary tool. The tribunals appear to be as baffled about the admissibility of adept witness grounds as it relates to seize with teeth Markss, as is the public. While the public resort to offense and forensic scientific discipline Television play to derive an apprehension of the jurisprudence, albeit a distorted, convoluted, and false apprehension, the tribunals stretch their credibleness by declining to follow established regulations and criterions on which to establish consistent determinations sing admissibility.

Interpretations of the trilogy of Frye, Daubert, and Kumho regulations and criterions seem to be every bit mutable as the conditions and one would be hard pressed to foretell how any tribunal will use them. Alternatively of forestalling grouch scientific discipline come ining the tribunals as recognized scientific cognition, the tribunals appear to be feeding that same grounds on a platter. These same concerns are ignored by the scientific community – how else could it be explained as to why there are no cosmopolitan criterions, methods and patterns.

There are consistent defects in the criterions adopted to carry on bite grade analyses. It is known that many trials are based on utilizing hog tegument for feelings, yet, it is besides accepted that hog tegument and human tegument are inherently different. Marks made on hog tegument do non compare with Markss made on human tegument.[ 17 ]It is accepted that there are as many different methodological analysiss used for analyses as there are bite grade expert informants, yet once more, neither the tribunals non the scientific industry seem set on forcing for common criterions.[ 18 ]Even in the face of contradictory expert testimony, the tribunals seem to debate non how to demand true scientific methodological analysis, but alternatively to use energy maintaining grounds in for specious grounds instead than demand across the board increases in quality of grounds and consistence of methodological analysis.[ 19 ]

The trilogy appears to hold made small difference to the province of confusion that exists in the tribunals. Evidence that was one time admissible, no longer is, and grounds that one could guess should non be admissible, is accepted out of manus based on old acceptableness criterions. It is


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