Those forensic dentists, L.T. Johnson and Raymond Rawson, are now defendants in a civil case alleging that they violated Stinson’s right to a fair trial. They maintain that they gave a good-faith expert opinion based on the state of the science at the time.
If this story sounds familiar, it’s because several forensic disciplines have fallen into disrepute after contributing to wrongful convictions. The Innocence Project estimates that faulty forensic science was involved in more than 40 percent of DNA exoneration cases.
The 30-minute documentary above is our best effort at piecing together how this happens. It shows how cultural and structural norms in our judicial system leave criminal trials vulnerable to unreliable but persuasive scientific evidence. And it explains why progress has been slow to fortify many of the forensic sciences despite dozens of wrongful convictions.
After he was released in 2009, Stinson received only $5,000 for every year he spent in prison. His civil trial is scheduled for June 2019.
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