Forensics Our Faithful Friend

My account of truth is realistic, and follows the epistemological dualism of common sense. Suppose I say to you 'The thing exists' — is that true or not? How can you tell? Not till my statement has developed its meaning farther is it determined as being true, false, or irrelevant to reality altogether. But if now you ask 'what thing? ' and I reply 'a desk'; if you ask 'where? ' and I point to a place; if you ask 'does it exist materially, or only in imagination? ' and I say 'materially'; if moreover I say 'I mean that desk,' and then grasp and shake a desk which you see just as I have described it, you are willing to call my statement true.

But you and I are commutable here; we can exchange places; and, as you go bail for my desk, so I can go bail for yours. 1 Ever since the beginning of time man has yet to grasp what the real meaning of truth is. Truth to some people can be the entire base of what our justice system is based on; to other people truth can be an object of complete and utter illusion. We find ourselves asking of what can really become of such a powerful object. The knowledge that man has often searched for is often one of factual actions, and therefore one always searches for the truth.

The truth is often an object that sparks and flickers in the human mind but never registers as a clear picture until the truth reveals itself, and then our curiosity is fulfilled. When we want the truth we get it, and thus we search for it everywhere. Forensic Science is essentially the application of science to law. "Forensic science uses highly developed technologies to uncover scientific evidence in a variety of fields. "2 Forensic science today has a broad range of applications. It is used in civil cases such as forgeries, fraud, or negligence.

It can assist law-enforcement officials determine whether any laws or regulations have been violated in the marketing of foods and drinks, the manufacture of medicines, or the use of pesticides on crops. It can also determine whether automobile emissions are within a permissible level and whether drinking water meets legal purity requirements. Forensics is used in monitoring the compliance of various countries with such international agreements as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention and to learn whether a country is developing a secret nuclear weapons program.

"However, forensic science is most commonly used to investigate criminal cases involving a victim, such as assault, robbery, kidnapping, rape, or murder. "3 District attorneys routinely call upon medical examiners to give expert testimony in a trial, especially concerning the findings of an autopsy and the results of laboratory tests. Expert testimony is that given by a specialist who has been recognized by the court as having expert knowledge about evidence in the case. Such testimony is governed by different rules than the testimony of ordinary witnesses in a trial.

Ordinary testimony is restricted to statements concerning what the witness actually saw or heard. An ordinary witness is prohibited from stating opinions about the case and from quoting statements made by other people. In contrast, an expert witness is allowed to express an opinion about the validity of the evidence in a case and may quote the statements of other experts in support of an opinion. "The combination of a medical and legal approach to dealing with crimes used in the United States today had its origin in England in the 12th century, when King Richard I established the Office of the Coroner.

"4 Although the coroner's main duty was to keep a record of all criminal matters in the county, he was also responsible for investigating all deaths thought to be the result of suicide or homicide. With time, the need for a more scientific investigation of unnatural deaths became apparent, and coroners began calling on physicians for help. Over the centuries, it became clear that medical schools needed to prepare doctors for this responsibility. As a result, in 1807 the University of Edinburgh in Scotland established a Department of Legal Medicine.

The early American colonists brought the coroner system with them, including the appointment of coroners by a representative of the crown. After the formation of the United States, elected officials appointed coroners. As medical involvement in the investigations of violent and unexplained deaths increased, communities began to require that the individual in charge of such investigations have a specific academic background. In 1877 Massachusetts adopted a statewide system requiring that an Office of the Medical Examiner, to be headed by a physician, replace the coroner's office.

A number of other states also adopted this requirement. In 1915 New York City established a comprehensive program in which the medical examiner was specifically authorized to investigate all deaths resulting from criminal violence, accidents, or suicides, and those that occurred suddenly to people who appeared to be in good health. In examining evidence, such as chemical or substance, forensics plays a vital role in identifying causes for specific diseases or abnormalities. For example the medical examiner must proceed with extreme caution when examining foreign, and possibly harmful, chemicals.

He must make use protective clothing and gather as much items of evidence as possible. The examiner then examines the chemical content of the substance and then concludes if the material was in fact harmful to the person claiming that they were affected. Yet another aspect the scientist or examiner can take is to look at the person's DNA. When investigating the DNA the examiner may find abnormalities in the strand and can start pondering if in fact object(s) that they inhaled, ate, or exposed to, caused the abnormality.

Although the procedure of investigating evidence may be very sophisticated, we have still loopholes in "a working process. " The lack of knowledge of science on the part of a lawyer working for the accused can mean that the questions that would expose flaws in scientific evidence are not asked. "An illustration of this is a case in 1973 of John Preece who was convicted of rape"5. The most important forensic evidence was that some group A blood cells were found in semen stains on the woman's pants. Preece was found to be blood group A and one of a relatively select group of people that secrete blood in their body fluids.

What was neglected to be exposed at trial is that the victim was also of blood group A and a secretor. Preece was freed on appeal if the lawyer had any forethought of scientific method a question that would have exposed this would have been obviously very pertinent and extremely important for them to ask. Another incident in which this has occurred was when a Serbian soldier by the name of Filip Sjaglovic and a group of other Serbian soldiers were attempting to gain compensation from NATO for there physical disabilities they had obtained by the Depleted Uranium that had been fired by NATO peacekeeping missions.

The victims were examined by a specialized team of physicians and toxicologists, what the experts found were in fact foreign, DNA altering chemicals, but they could not conclude that it was depleted uranium because of the fact that the chemical must be at a certain level in order to affect the body. What the examiners didn't do was to inspect the supposed site or area to see if any citizens were affected, also they could've collected samples from the earth in that environment to see if the substance would have been a "relative" of the supposed chemical and could have made some connections in the case.

Scientific test evidence may be unreliable due to scientific inaccuracy in principles, process, execution and interpretation. It is important to remember that problems can occur at all of these levels and each needs therefore to be examined. "Consolidating this problem is the fact that the aura of scientific certainty often causes these possible flaws to be overlooked. "6 It is also important to remember that this problem extends to all scientific tests and not just novel or un-established ones and so all should be subject to inspection.