2015.07.18 法医证据——识别危机 By 石海霞

发表于:2015-07-26 10:10 [只看楼主] [划词开启]

【法医学是司法部门查案、破案的重要方式,大家都坚信其所提供的法医证据真实可靠。然而,情况确实如此吗?俗话说:人非圣贤,孰能无过? 更何况法医学?

Forensic evidence

法医证据

Identity crisis

识别危机

Forensic science’s flaws are catching up with it

法医科学为自身缺陷所束缚

Jul 18th 2015 | From the print edition

      Another forensic mess you’ve gotten me into

   法医科学因自身不足再次陷入混乱

 

THE more that is known about a science, the more uses tend to be found for it. But in the case of forensics—the discipline through which villains are identified by stray fingerprints, stands of hair or other giveaways—it seems that the more is discovered about the field, the more courts are losing faith in it.

科学探索愈深,用武之地愈多。然而,对于法医学而言,这一领域发现的增多导致其失去更多法庭的信任感。法医学是通过鉴定零星的指纹、留落的头发或其他暴露身份的方式识别罪犯身份的一门学科。

 

Advances in forensic science have led to spectacular breakthroughs in justice. In 2009 Sean Hodgson, who had spent 27 years in jail for the 1979 murder of a Southampton barmaid, had his conviction quashed after DNA tests proved that blood found at the crime scene could not have been his. But in other cases faulty forensic evidence has led police and prosecutors astray. In 2012 a man spent five months in jail awaiting trial for a rape committed in a city he had never visited, after a police lab confused his DNA with samples taken from the victim. In 2014, after spending 12 years in jail, Dwaine George had his murder conviction overturned after a retrial established that the tiny quantity of gunshot residue found on a coat in his house could have been picked up anywhere.

司法破案多次取得重大突破要归因于先进的法医学。1979年,肖恩·霍德森因安普顿酒吧女侍被杀一案被判入狱。然而,根据DNA检测结果,犯罪现场发现的血迹并非确定为肖恩血迹,因此,入狱27年的肖恩于2009年获得无罪释放。但在某些案件中,法医证据的失误将警察与检察官引入歧途,真假难辨。2012年,一名男子因一起发生在他从未去过的城市的强奸案入狱,警局实验室分辨不出该男子DNA与受害者身上的取证物,之后该名男子留在狱中等待审讯,时间长达五个月达维恩·乔治因谋杀罪被判入狱,之后法院重审此案,确定在其家中某件大衣上发现的微量射击残迹可能为他处沾来物。2014年,达维恩入狱12年后获无罪释放。

 

In America, concerns about forensic evidence are well established. Dodgy forensics contribute to nearly half of all wrongful convictions there, according to the Innocence Project, a New York-based charity dedicated to overturning miscarriages of justice. In 2009 America’s National Academy of Sciences argued that fingerprint, bite-mark and bloo-spatter analysis were being used unreliably. Earlier this year a report by a defence-lawyers’ association found hair analysis to be untrustworthy in 95% of cases.

在美国,对法医证据存疑的现象大量存在。根据无辜计划(纽约一家致力于撤销法院误判的公益机构)法医学的不可靠性促成美国近半数的误判。美国国家科学院于2009年称,目前使用的指纹、咬痕以及血迹鉴定法不具有可靠性。此前(2014年),辩护律师协会发布的一项报告发现,头发鉴定法在95%的案件中不具有威信度。

 

As a result of such doubts, the use of some forms of forensic evidence has been suspended. In January a New York judge threw out evidence obtained from mixed DNA analysis, where two profiles are extracted from one sample. The FBI has abandoned the use of gunshot residue. Scepticism has grown in other countries, too: the Netherlands has given up the use of handwriting analysis, for instance.

诸多疑虑的存在导致某些法医鉴定法停用。1月份,纽约一位法官未接受DNA混合物(提取自相同取证物)的鉴定结果。美国联邦调查局停止使用射击残迹这一鉴定方法。在其他国家,对法医证据的怀疑日益见长,例如,荷兰放弃使用字迹鉴定法。

 

Britain, on the other hand, remains keen on the Sherlock Holmes stuff. Mixed-DNA, gunshot residue and handwriting analysis are all still used in British trials, to the concern of some jurists. The profession has other problems, highlighted in a recent series of papers published by the Royal Society, a fellowship of eminent scientists. A restructuring of the national forensics service in 2011, in which the scientific analysis of crime-scene evidence moved from the public to the private sector, left it fragmented. According to two official reports that followed, this led to dangerous levels of disorganisation.

然而,英国依然热衷于夏洛克·福尔摩斯的破案法。英国法庭上仍在使用DNA混合物、射击残迹与字迹鉴定法,这让有些法学家担忧不已。英国皇家学会(众多杰出科学家组成的团体)最近发表的一系列文章重点讨论了法医证据的其他问题。2011年,全国法医服务机构进行结构重组,科学鉴定犯罪现场证据的业务由公共机构转交于私人机构,导致机构体系四分五裂。随后,两项官方报告称,这导致了不同程度的混乱。

 

Problems are not limited to the lab. Scientists and lawyers come from different cultures with different languages, and can find it hard to explain things to each other in court. This makes it easier for barristers wilfully to misrepresent the evidence, according to Paul Roberts of Nottingham University’s school of law. Meanwhile jurors, educated by crime dramas, tend to overestimate what forensics can do—a tendency dubbed the “CSI effect” by lawyers.

法医证据问题不只存在于实验室。科学家与律师具有不同的文化背景与语言,他们在法庭上向对方作解释时认为存在难度。诺丁汉大学法学院的保罗·罗伯茨教授认为,此种情况下,律师很容易随意误传证据。同时,受犯罪片启发的陪审员往往会过高评估法医学的能力。这一趋势造成律师所谓的“CSI效应”。 

 

The forensics profession has been slow to address its problems. And the erosion of forensic science’s credibility has happened so gradually that policymakers have not fully realised the scale of the problem, thinks Mr Roberts. This is worrying: cutting-edge science tends to be experimental, but justice should try not to be.

法医学这一职业解决自身问题的进程缓慢。罗伯茨教授认为,法医学的可靠性逐渐丧失,致使政策制定者还未来得及充分认识到问题之严重。让人担忧的是,先进的科学往往需要反复试验但司法则不同。

From the print edition: Britain

 

本文原文转自《经济学人》        翻译:石海霞    校对:吴倩

未经许可不得转载

分类: 欧洲英国

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