Dalhousie Law Journal


science, medicine, forensics, evidence, criminal process, wrongful convictions, research, demonstrable reliability


Adopting a pragmatic and empirically sensitive approach to the use of forensic science and medicine, this essay defends Edmond and Roach's "AContextual Approach to the Admissibility of the State's Forensic Science and Medical Evidence." The authors reiterate their concerns about idealized approaches to science and expertise and question the utility of philosophically-driven and essentialist models of science for legal practice. In detail the essay explains why privileging process over outcomes in the criminal process (andeven perpetuating the dichotomy) is misguided. The authors affirm the importance of factual accuracy and the socio-institutional illegitimacy generated by wrongful convictions. Drawing upon recent inquiries and recommendations which confirm their concerns about endemic problems confronting contemporary forensic science and medicine-especially around the limited research base-and noting the demonstrated frailties ofaccusatorial trials and appeals, the authors continue to advocate "demonstrable reliability" as an admissibility prophylactic.