Innocence Project Taking a Bite Out of Bite Mark Evidence

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By George Khoury, Esq. on March 01, 2019 4:39 PM

While CSI-style forensics make for compelling TV and really damning evidence in a courtroom, the truth is, forensics aren't always accurate. Sure, DNA evidence is pretty much rock-solid, but things like hair and fingerprints even have been discredited, right alongside bite marks too.

And to that end, the Innocence Project has filed a lawsuit against the National Museum of Health and Medicine after it refused to allow the group to review records related to forensic bite mark evidence.

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The Innocence Project alleges that the records could be instrumental in helping the group to debunk forensic odontology, which it explains has resulted in over 30 wrongful convictions, to date, that we know about. The group further explains that a recent study shows that bite mark evidence is incredibly unreliable, and just shouldn't be relied upon.

The Innocence Project's lawsuit assert violations of the First Amendment, FOIA, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act. In short, the case alleges that the museum is siding with the American Board of Forensic Odontology, the group that certifies bite mark experts, to refuse access to the records.

The project believes the ABFO does not want to release the information because the results will be bad for their industry. However, as the lawsuit points out, the museum has "the only centralized catalogue of cases in which forensic bite mark evidence was used." And as such, is critical for their research.

Curiously, the project submitted their FOIA request in 2017, and was denied access because the ABFO did not agree with the project's objectives.

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