Documentary: The Real CSI
The documentary is focused on the reliability of forensic science to arrest and convict defendants charged for particular offenses. However, some experts are of opinion that forensic science uses techniques that have not been validated scientifically such as the science of fingerprint analysis. It has been well-established in the law on evidence that fingerprints represent the highest standard of forensic science since “no two persons can have the same fingerprints”(Reagan, “The Truth About Forensics”). However, poor forensic analysis done by examiners can cause the conviction of an innocent man who is sentenced to suffer imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. In addition, there no national standard that has been established for any forensic testimony (Frontline,“The Real CSI”). Further, getting a certification as a forensics expert can easily be obtained online. Thus, the reliability of science behind forensics is being questioned due to inaccuracies and mistakes making it a controversial tool to aid the criminal justice system.
This happened in the case of Mayfield, who was wrongfully charged for detonating a bomb in Madrid, Spain which killed several people. The only evidence found was his fingerprint of Mayfield. Three different fingerprint analysis experts have positively testified that it was the fingerprint of Mayfield. When the case was set for trial on the stage of plea bargaining, Mayfield was informed by his attorney that they arrested another man, whose fingerprint matched the real perpetrator of the crime based on the fingerprint analysis submitted to the court. This is one clear example that forensic science is not reliable.
Hence, there is a need to directly identify the technological loopholes and deficiencies in the criminal justice system to identify the areas of development for forensic technology. Secondly, the issues on weak implementation and failure to fully utilize the existing technologies in criminal justice departments will be resolved. Finally, there is a need to determine the causal connection between the right use of forensic technologies and the reduction of crime incidence or the arrest of the perpetrators.
Although the fingerprint evidence has been widely accepted by majority of courts involving criminal cases, it does not prove reliability according to the presiding judge in this case of Maryland v. Rose, stated that although he acknowledged the 100-year history of fingerprint evidence as an instrument to solve crimes, it cannot be concluded that what has been decided earlier in the past does not stand alone by itself to support a decision to consider the fingerprint as admissible that will warrant conviction of the accused. This is a shocking decision because it can result to the confusion of other courts which heavily rely on the accuracy of fingerprint evidence to render judgments of conviction. This incident must be considered only as an isolated case because similar murder cases that are being tried in other courts should take into account the reliability of fingerprint evidence.Therefore, the recommendation of the Reagan (“The Truth About Forensics”) is to make a “further study and develop new methods to verify fingerprints should be given merit”. DNA testing is an important tool that will help solve crimes, but it should also be carefully studied and must adapt to the continuously evolving scientific processes in order to ensure that the result is accurate.
Butler, J.M .Advanced Topics in Forensic DNA Typing. Waltham, MA: Academic Press, 2011.
Frontline. “The Real CSI”. Pbs.org. Web. April 17, 2012. Retrieved on April 17, 2013, from
Reagan, Brad.“The Truth About Forensics”. Popular Science, 2009. Print
Reagan, Brad.”CSI Myths: The Shaky Science Behind Forensics”. 2012.
The Popular Mechanics. Web. April 17, 2013
Maryland v. Rose No. K06-0545 (MD Cir. Ct. Oct. 19, 2007)