BEND, Ore. - Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel expressed dismay Tuesday after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department won't renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a panel of judges, defense attorneys, researchers and law enforcement officials that had been advising the attorney general on the use of scientific evidence in the criminal justice process.
The department will instead appoint an in-house advisor and create an internal committee to study improvements to forensic analysis, Sessions said Monday.
“This decision is disheartening,” Hummel said. “Prosecutors and defense attorneys zealously advocate for our clients, and in doing so, strive to comply with legal ethics which require us to not knowingly present false evidence.
"But try as we might, implicit bias can and does result in unintentional shading of testimony and legal arguments," the DA added. "Justice depends on independent juries and judges to parse competing narratives and in doing so, to rely on scientific evidence that is valid, as opposed to voodoo.”
Particularly troubling about Sessions’ decision, Hummel said, is that the National Commission on Forensic Science is scheduled to release a report later this month that announces the progress they have made and the work that remains to be done.
“Faux science is a weapon of injustice,” Hummel said. “In spite of Attorney General Sessions’ apparent abandonment of the scientific method, your district attorney will continue to embrace science as a tool to find the truth.”