In February, Senator Scott Wiener introduced new criminal justice reform legislation, Senate Bill 938. This bill would amend the standards used for evaluating expert testimony and forensics in court, pre- and post-conviction. Faulty forensic and scientific evidence, provided by expert witnesses, are the second most common reason that individuals are wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit.
Today, courts have discretion over which expert testimonies are admissible. Studies show that courts accept most forensic science and expert testimony without sufficient scrutiny, leaving significant room for imprecision and human error. This error leads to the high rate of false convictions. Expert testimony that fails to rely on sound logic should not be considered expert testimony at all.
SB 938 additionally strengthens the grounds on which individuals wrongfully convicted of a crime based on unreliable expert testimony can seek post-conviction relief. This provision will help exonerate innocent people across California.
“Wrongful convictions cause concentric circles of harm: to the wrongfully convicted and their communities, to the crime victims who were told a false story and face re-traumatization, to the jurors who unwittingly participated in the injustice, and to the integrity of the system as a whole. I applaud Senator Wiener’s efforts to safeguard against wrongful convictions by keeping unreliable science out of the courtroom,” said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
SB 938 is sponsored by the California Innocence Project, the Loyola Project for the Innocent, and the Northern California Innocence Project.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9