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Forensic Science Program Gets $2.2M to Study Certain Types of Pattern Matching Evidence

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The University of California Davis has recently received $2.2 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to begin research on certain forensic science techniques. The research will focus on pattern matching in firearms (bullets and cartridge cases) and duct-tape. The issue is that the forensic “science” used in most pattern matching forensic disciplines (fingerprints, hair, bite marks, tool marks, tire/shoe prints, fired cartridge casings, etc.) is not supported by scientific testing. The claims of many pattern matching experts have gotten way ahead of the actual state of the art. For many of these pattern matching disciplines there is a complete dearth of probabilities supported by statistics. The U.S. Department of Justice grant aims to facilitate the beginnings of research into two pattern matching techniques. Currently although the pattern matching cases lack the sound scientific basis of DNA technology, experts often testify with the same type of certainty as if the pattern matching evidence were supported by proper research. Pattern matching cases have been and continue to be of great concern to us because of their likelihood to result in wrongful convictions.

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