Journal of Law and Policy


Michael Luongo


As the forensic science industry grows, so do the scandals – overburdened crime labs, unverified science, corrupt analysts, and diminishing federal oversight. Given the need to ensure that valid forensic science-based evidence is used at trial, a criminal defense attorney typically has the opportunity to cross-examine the scientist who conducted the forensic analysis. However, the 2012 Supreme Court decision of Williams v. Illinois has muddied an otherwise cohesive Confrontation Clause doctrine, allowing for the admission of forensic evidence without the testimony of the forensic scientist, but with no clear holding and different interpretations about what is considered “testimonial evidence.” To correct the erroneous decision in Williams, and to clarify confusion about the admissibility of forensic science, the federal judiciary should create a new Federal Rule of Evidence specifically barring forensic science-based evidence from being admitted under a hearsay exception. A new evidence rule specifically concerning forensic science would serve multiple purposes, by both protecting a right that many feel is inherent in the constitution and by adapting the Federal Rules of Evidence for the modern world.