Justice Department Announces Plans to Advance Forensic Science
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced two new Department of Justice projects today at the International Association for Identification’s conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This reinforces the Justice Department’s commitment to sound forensic science practices and to increasing the capacity and effectiveness of forensic science providers by helping to improve the reliability of forensic analysis.
“The Department of Justice believes that when the adversarial American legal system functions as intended – including through the support of trained forensic examiners and legal practitioners educated on best forensics practices – justice is advanced,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. “The Department is fully committed to examining and strengthening forensic science despite efforts in the courtroom and elsewhere to reject reliable and admissible forensic evidence.”
The projects announced today are aimed at ensuring that the testimony of the Justice Department’s forensic examiners is consistent with sound scientific principles and just outcomes. The Department will develop Uniform Language for Testimony and Reports to give clear guidance to what the Department’s forensics examiners may discuss in a courtroom, and direct prosecutors to follow the same guidelines. The Department will also develop a new forensic examiner testimony-monitoring program to ensure compliance with the uniform language standards once they are adopted.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein also announced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has tapped Ted Hunt, a former state prosecutor and member of the National Commission on Forensic Science (which sunset in April), to serve as the Department’s Senior Advisor on Forensics. In addition to Mr. Hunt’s decades of first-hand experience investigating and prosecuting cases with forensic evidence, he has long been involved with state, local, and federal efforts to improve forensic science through committees, commissions, and training programs.
“It speaks strongly of the Attorney General’s commitment to the interdisciplinary nature of forensic science that he has appointed Mr. Hunt to serve in this position,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. “I am directing him to coordinate closely with our federal, state, local, and tribal forensic science practitioners and to identify ways to best continue ongoing outreach to these stakeholders.”