Radley Balko posted a two part investigative article over at HuffPo that tells the story of self-proclaimed forensic specialists Steven Hayne and Michael West of Mississippi who helped convict and ruin the lives of numerous innocent people, while the real perpetrators remained at large to victimize more people. No one can relate his story better than Balko, since he has been investigating these two characters for years.
When I channel hop, I am always amazed at how many TV shows I stumble across that are based on crime investigation and prosecution. There can be no profession more glorified by Hollywood than law enforcement. It’s no wonder jurors walk into a court room ready to convict on the word of a forensic expert. And yet, many forensic methods and conclusions are not based on real science but rather the mere fact that expert witnesses have been making the same claims for so long that they are now treated as indisputable fact. But, thanks to people like Radley Balko, those claims are coming under more scrutiny and incompetent practitioners like West and Hayne are finally being exposed.