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NCJ Number: 229257 Find in a Library
Title: Evidentiary Standards for Forensic Anthropology
Author(s): Angi M. Christensen Ph.D.; Christian M. Crowder Ph.D.
Date Published: November 2009
Page Count: 6
Type: Guideline
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article explores the legal impetus for the trend toward the development of evidentiary standards for forensic anthropology, and it discusses the recent formation of a Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology (SWGANTH).
Abstract: Through the continued interaction of law and the practice of scientific disciplines, there has been recent increased awareness and interest in critically assessing some of the techniques used by forensic anthropologists; however, issues such as validation, error rates, and professional standards have seldom been addressed. This article reviews the three major court decisions that involve admissibility of expert testimony: Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, General Electric Co. v. Joiner, and Kuhmo Tire Co. v. Carmichael. In response to the rulings in these cases, many forensic disciplines have opted to re-evaluate some of the techniques and methods used in their examinations in order to ensure the scientific method was followed, where applicable. This article also examines the current interplay between legal and scientific culture within the forensic disciplines and identifies areas where forensic anthropology can improve. Improvements discussed pertain to issues of method validation and quality assurance. Current discourse within the field regarding best practice protocol is also reviewed. Standardization of research results, including appropriate statistical models and levels of precision in the form of best-practice protocols will help ensure a higher quality of anthropological research and provide a secure foundation for forensic anthropologists in the courtroom. Toward this end, the SWGANTH was created for the purposes of encouraging discourse among anthropologists and developing and disseminating consensus guidelines for the practice of forensic anthropology. 29 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Evidence; Expert witnesses; Forensic anthropology; Rules of evidence; US Supreme Court decisions
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