Andrew L. Urban
National cabinet (that bastard child of the pandemic) has dumped the review by the nation’s Attorneys-General into junk science that was to lead to reforms in crucial evidence presented in courts.
Just so you know, the widely accepted forensic ‘sciences’ of bullet, hair, footprint, bite mark and mixed sample DNA are all actually junk science; they are not based on solid scientific evidence. Neither is Shaken Baby Syndrome. See ‘Shaken Baby Syndrome convictions rely on junk science and tunnel vision’
Likewise, covert recordings used by police to gather evidence, are transcribed in a dangerously unscientific way. See “Did he say I shot the prick or I can’t breathe”?
The review intended to explore the establishment of basic standards that could be benchmarks for such evidence. It also wanted to examine the whether juries were capable of understanding complex scientific evidence – often crucial in serious criminal trials where the penalties are severe.
The investigation had clocked up 16 months but was quietly closed off earlier this year after the national cabinet downsized the Council of Attorneys-General, restricting its focus to family violence, protection for older Australians and defamation law reform.
Professor Gary Edmond, director of the University of NSW’s expertise, evidence and law program, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, saying completing the review was already “long overdue” but it now appeared there was no end date in sight. “That doesn’t mean the states themselves can’t go ahead on their own. What’s stopping Victoria from looking at the same issue itself? This needs to be done – we’re completely out of step with other comparable countries that have standards that say forensic science evidence doesn’t get into a trial unless it’s demonstrably reliable.”
The push to put the review on the national agenda had been spearheaded by then Victorian attorney-general Jill Hennessy and president of the Victorian Court of Appeal Justice Chris Maxwell, who were both outspoken in their concerns about the integrity of the legal system and potential for miscarriages of justice.