Rudin on an “Office of Forensic Science”

A comment on a proposal being considered by the CFSO – draft legislation that would create an Office of Forensic Science within the Department of Justice (here is a link to the draft as of Feb. 14, 2017):

Putting an office of forensic science under a law enforcement agency if a fundamentally bad idea.  This would take us backwards, not move us forward.  Additionally, the composition of the board is problematic.  It is slanted toward public agencies and provides no voice to independent scientists.  Again, this takes us backwards not forward.  The problems that the field of forensic science is experiencing is largely due to the insular approach the field has taken historically.  Perpetuating this attitude will only perpetuate the problems, not solve them.  We need to be be reaching out and encouraging an interdisciplinary approach, not circling the wagons.  NIST, a scientific and neutral agency, is the appropriate place to house forensic science science offices, commissions, groups.

I encourage AAFS to vote against this dangerous legislation.

Thank you,

Norah Rudin

Published by BGarrett

Professor of Law, Duke University

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  1. Reblogged this on FORENSICS and LAW in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends and commented:
    Rudin Votes “No” on ‘Office of Forensic Sciences.”
    Nora Rudin is a DNA pioneer in the US who has some very pointed comments on the issue of forensic science needing to be independent of prosecutorial and police governmental management influences. Despite what many current police science pundits say to the contrary.


  2. I would also like to point out that the primary law enforcement branch of the USDOJ has been the source of much of the troubles with forensic science. From hair comparison to bullet lead comparison to criminal profiling the FBI has proven to provide exaggerated, incorrect, and misleading reports and testimony for many years. Until they can justify their work based on valid science rather than blatant arrogance, they should not be in charge of telling the rest of the profession how to do its job.


  3. If I understand the 2009 Report (Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: a Path Forward) correctly, they recommended moving forensic laboratories away from law enforcement control for the same reason as is implied here. It creates a conflict of interest.


  4. The recent letter from six scientists, one of whom is an author of a textbook on forensic chemistry puts additional weight to the notion that Attorney General Sessions made the wrong call. From this letter: “For too long, decisions regarding forensic science have been made without the input of the research science community…The inclusion of an array of research scientists is necessary to further improve the foundation and practice of forensic science and to the justice system. The representation of these fields has been one of the strengths of this Commission and has been critical to its success. Any forum for forensic
    science issues must include significant numbers of independent scientists and researchers.”


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