Sometimes a single judge ruling in a solitary case can influence other judges all over the nation to follow his or her lead. Recently, criminal defense and criminal justice advocates hoped that a judge in New York would rule in such a way that a domino effect of similar rulings would occur all over the nation. Individuals and groups across the U.S. had hoped that a New York judge would prohibit bite marks from being entered as evidence in a criminal trial. Unfortunately, the judge ruled that bite mark evidence remains admissible.
The New York judge may have allowed bite mark evidence in his courtroom during a pivotal test case. However, the fight to prohibit unreliable bite mark evidence from influencing criminal deliberations is far from over.
Since 2000, at least two dozen men in the U.S. charged or convicted of rape or murder based primarily on bite mark evidence have been exonerated, according to the Associated Press. Many of these wrongfully convicted men spent years in prison and some even spent time on death row for crimes they did not commit. Juries are too often swayed by the unreliable forensic tool of bite mark analysis and the technique thus needs to be banned from the courtrooms of America.
Bite marks have become increasingly regarded as unreliable forensic evidence in criminal proceedings. Despite rejection of this evidence by a number of forensic and criminal justice experts, they continue to be admitted as evidence in trials. At this point in time, it is important that judges start rejecting this unreliable form of evidence in order to influence other judges to do the same.
Source: Law.com, “In Pivotal Test, N.Y. Judge OKs Bite Mark Evidence,” Amanda Lee Meyers and David B. Caruso, Sep. 6, 2013