Interpreting evidence: evaluating forensic science in the courtroom

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J. Wiley, Oct 26, 1995 - Law - 240 pages
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  • How certain can you be that matching fingerprints have a common origin?
  • How reliable are the testing procedures for DNA and blood samples? What inferences can be drawn from the results of such procedures by criminal, family and immigration lawyers?
  • If matching glass or fibre traces are found, what value can be placed on this evidence?
The manner in which the defence, prosecution and expert witnesses deal with such questions can decide the outcome of a case. The important new techniques based on principles of logic and probability which the authors advocate in Interpreting Evidence offer litigants and witnesses clear and practical advice on the presentation of physical evidence in a courtroom. Written jointly by a lawyer and an expert in using probability in decision-making, Interpreting Evidence discusses actual case reports (such as the UK Birmingham Six case, the New York case of People v Castro, the O.J. Simpson trial in Los Angeles and the Pengelly case in New Zealand) to illustrate this modern technique of interpreting scientific evidence. Equally applicable in every modern jurisdiction, Interpreting Evidence is essential reading for criminal, family and immigration lawyers as well as prosecution services, the judiciary and forensic scientists. For teachers and students of evidence this book will be invaluable as a teaching and discussion tool.

"The general thesis of the book is admirable and the writing is very good indeed. It deserves to have considerable influence on the appreciation of scientific evidence in law." Professor Dennis Lindley, Professor of Statistics, University College London, UK (retired).

"I am sure that this will become a standard work for all who need to understand the logic of evaluating evidence. The authors have taken great pains to avoid complicated mathematics and expose, with remarkable clarity, the essential principles of this fascinating, yet neglected, subject." Dr Ian Evett, Home Office Forensic Science Service, UK.

"This is a book that must be read by anybody for whom scientific evidence may be important. Novices will find this book a clear guide to understanding how scientific evidence should be presented in litigation. Those who think of themselves as experts will find themselves stimulated by the able presentation and vigorous advocacy of the authors approach." Professor Richard Friedman, Professor of Law, University of Michigan, USA.

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
3
Chapter 3
31
Chapter 4
51
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Bernard Robertson is a qualified barrister at the Inner Temple in London and is currently senior lecturer in the Department of Business Law at Massey University, New Zealand. Professor G. A. (Tony) Vignaux is Professor of Operations Research at the Institute of Statistics and Operations Research, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Both authors have co-written numerous articles and conference papers on the interpretation of forensic scientific evidence and on reasoning in evidence generally.

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