Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Public Comment Period for Seven National Commission on Forensic Science Work Products To Close on 12/22

Public Service Announcement
The comment period for seven National Commission on Forensic Science work products will close on 12/22/15.  The documents can be found, and comments can be left, at this location on Regulations.gov. The documents that are the most interesting (to me, at least) are as follows:
  • Directive Recommendation on the National Code of Professional Responsibility DOJ-LA-2015-0009-0002 (calls on the Attorney General to require forensic science service providers within the Department of Justice to adopt and enforce an enumerated 16-point “National Code of Professional Responsibility for Forensic Science and Forensic Medicine Service Providers”; to have someone define “steps ... to address violations”; and to “strongly urge” other groups to adopt the code)
  • Views Document on Establishing the Foundational Literature Within the Forensic Science Disciplines DOJ-LA-2015-0009-000 (asks for unspecified people or organizations to prepare “documentation” or “compilation” of “the literature that supports the underlying scientific foundation for each forensic discipline” “under stringent review criteria” and, apparently, for courts to rely on these compilations in responding to objections to admitting forensic science evidence)
  • Views Document on Using the Term Reasonable Degree of Scientific Certainty DOJ-LA-2015-0009-0008 (“legal professionals should not require that forensic discipline testimony be admitted conditioned upon the expert witness testifying that a conclusion is held to a ‘reasonable scientific certainty,’ a ‘reasonable degree of scientific certainty,’ or a ‘reasonable degree of [discipline] certainty’ [because] [s]uch terms have no scientific meaning and may mislead factfinders ... . Forensic science service providers should not endorse or promote the use of this terminology.”)
  • Views Document on Proficiency Testing in Forensic Science DOJ-LA-2015-0009-0007 (“As a recognized quality control tool, it is the view of the Commission that proficiency testing should ... be implemented [not only by accredited forensic science service providers, but also] by nonaccredited FSSPs in disciplines where proficiency tests are available from external organizations”)
I won’t discuss the substance of these documents here, but I can't help noting that the Commission lacks a professional copy editor. The dangling modifier in the sentence on proficiency testing is a sign of the absence of this quality control tool for writing.

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