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Top judge says inaccurate forensic evidence may be putting innocent people in jail

A top judge says innocent people may have been jailed because too much credence has been given to forensic techniques.

Justice Chris Maxwell, Court of Appeal President, said some forensic techniques, including gunshot analysis, footprint analysis, hair comparison and bite mark comparison, are unreliable.

He is calling for legislative changes to give judges the opportunity to look at the reliability of forensic evidence before it is presented to juries.

Professor David Ranson, Deputy Director of the Forensic Services Division at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, agrees with the judge.

“There are some very unreliable sciences that should not be used for unequivocal identification in court,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“In some of those cases, even the fundamental underlying validity of the science is in doubt.

“In others, we know the science is right but we’re not sure whether it should and can be safely applied in a court setting.”

Mr Ranson said a lack of research is to blame for the unfounded belief that these inaccurate techniques can correctly identify individuals.

“You need extensive studies to validate that science,” he said.

“There’s a lot more investment in forensic science research that’s needed.”

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