News of the WeekForensic Science

Fingerprinting Doesn't Hold Up as a Science in Court

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Science  18 Jan 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5554, pp. 418
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5554.418

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When the U.S. Supreme Court set new standards 9 years ago designed to keep "junk science" out of the courtroom, few would have guessed that evidence based on one of the oldest and most widely used forensic techniques in the world might be in jeopardy. But earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that old-fashioned fingerprinting doesn't meet the Supreme Court's standards. The ruling won't knock fingerprint examiners out of the courtroom, but it may limit the claims they can make. And it opens the way for challenges to the scientific credibility of ballistics and other forensic techniques.