Forensic science is defined as the application of scientific or technical practices to the recognition, collection, analysis, and interpretation of evidence for civil and criminal law. Based on recent exonerations of criminal defendants wrongfully convicted based on forensic evidence, a series of reports and studies questioning the reliability and validity of certain forensic disciplines, and scandals in state crime laboratories, never before has the use of forensics been more controversial in the legal and scientific communities. This course will examine selected topics in the forensic sciences as we seek to understand the relationship between courts and science. While scientific methods and conclusions are evolving and changing, courtroom testimony requires jurors to come to a decision.
The goals of this course are for students to:
- Understand how evidence is collected and processed;
- Understand the various scientific techniques used including their limitations;
- Learn to evaluate scientific evidence, and
- Present and/or challenge the evidence in court