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Volume 91 Issue 18 | p. 5 | Letters
Issue Date: May 6, 2013

Sharing The Blame For Forensics’ Failures

Department: Letters

I have to agree with much of Charles Tumosa’s letter concerning the book review of “Failed Evidence: Why Law Enforcement Resists Science” (C&EN, April 1, page 6, and Feb. 18, page 50). Much of the blame for the problems in forensic sciences has to be dropped onto the doorstep of the legal system.

Judges with no science background (or sometimes no common sense) are the gatekeepers of evidence, determining what is or is not allowed in court. What person who heard, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” and who owns a pair of leather gloves doesn’t know that wet leather shrinks when it dries? In the 40-plus years I spent as a forensic scientist in drug analysis and analytical toxicology, I lost count of the many pretrial discussions that brought out what in my report I could or could not mention at trial. As Tumosa writes, “Lawyers control every step of the legal process.”

I see a similarity in the story “Pharma Deals Divide High Court,” where Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan expresses concern over drug companies protecting their interests at the expense of consumers (C&EN, April 1, page 11). Sure, drug costs are ridiculously high, but so is the cost of bringing that drug to market. What about the government paying farmers to not plant wheat or corn to keep the prices up? Shouldn’t that be an antitrust violation?

Mark W. Maxwell
Egg Harbor City, N.J.

Corrections:

Jan. 28, page 30: An Insights article about sequestration mistakenly reported that some $109 trillion in cuts was originally set to kick in at the start of 2013. The figure is $109 billion.

Feb. 11, page 28: In C&EN’s coverage of the awarding of the White House National Medals of Science or of Technology & Innovation, ACS member Rangaswamy Srinivasan of the consulting firm UVTech Associates was mistakenly omitted. He was awarded a National Medal of Technology & Innovation for his part in the discovery of ablative photodecomposition, which uses laser light to remove tissue and reshape the cornea.

April 8, page 31: In a story about genetically engineered apples, a photo caption incorrectly stated the location of Neal Carter, founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits. He is pictured in Washington state, not British Columbia.

April 15, page 4: A story about President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget stated that it reduces the discretionary budget to levels not seen since the Eisenhower Administration. This should have been clarified to read that it reduces the discretionary budget as a percent of the nation’s economy to levels not seen since the Eisenhower Administration.

 
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