Bite Mark Data

In February, the Innocence Project filed a lawsuit asking for access to the federal archive of bite mark convictions at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The Innocence Project believes that accessing the cases could “hold the key” to building cases for exoneration for individuals still imprisoned based on bite mark evidence.
In an Innocence Project article discussing the lawsuit, Chris Fabricant is quoted, saying “This archive could be the only way to identify unknown cases in which bite mark evidence was used and, potentially, produced wrongful convictions.” The lawsuit comes after the Innocence Project had been denied permission to conduct research within the archive, despite the museum normally allowing research of the archive. Furthermore, the Innocence Project filed a Freedom of Information Act application for the archive’s records last year, but so far has received no reply.
The PCAST Report noted, in 2016, that of scientific studies of bite mark evidence, “the observed false positive rates were so high that the method is clearly scientifically unreliable at present.” Read the Innocence Project’s take on their lawsuit at https://www.innocenceproject.org/innocence-project-sues-for-access-to-bite-mark-archive-that-could-expose-wrongful-convictions/.

Published by BGarrett

Professor of Law, Duke University

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