Gun Violence

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Issue: Gun Violence

Impact:

The Commission is developing standards and policy recommendations regarding introduction and use of forensic evidence in courts.  

Position:

No formal position.

Summary:

In January 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) appointed members to the National Commission on Forensic Science

The Commission is charged with improving the practice of forensic science by developing guidance concerning the intersections between forensic science and the criminal justice system. Also, the Commission will work to develop policy recommendations for the U.S. Attorney General, including uniform codes for professional responsibility and requirements for formal training and certification.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole and Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick D. Gallagher were appointed as co-chairs of the Commission. Nelson Santos, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Forensic Sciences at the Drug Enforcement Administration, and John M. Butler, special assistant to the NIST director for forensic science, serve as vice-chairs.

Status:

The Commission created 23 subcommittees to establish guidelines and standards.  A Training on Science and Law Subcommittee was established to explore mechanisms for judges, lawyers, and forensic scientists to engage in collaborative training.  The goal is to ensure that legal professionals understand the probative value and limitations of forensic science and forensic practitioners understand legal procedure and issues associated with the presentation of scientific evidence in court.  In addition, a Legal Issues Subcommittee was established to address legal issues raised by the other subcommittees. 

The Training on Science and Law Subcommittee is developing recommendations for training judges and others.  

The Reporting and Testimony Subcommittee is developing recommendations on issues, such as pretrial discovery, expert testimony, report writing; probabilistic statements; and evidence preservation and retention.