On the reliability of “expert” testimony — the ears (don’t) have it.

It app-ears that ear print comparisons have been advocated as a method of identifying a perpetrator.  But, it app-ears that the British courts are giving the so-called expert an earful of doubt.

Andre A. Moenssens, Another Ear Print Conviction Reversed!  (Prof. Moenssens is one of several law professors to follow on issues of forensics and evidence.  A lot more can be found at Forensic-Evidence.com.

Credibility is always an issue.

The trial court accepted his testimony readily. Neither the court nor
counsel were aware that the same expert had previously opined in a
written report that the print he would later identify at the trial as
the defendant’s, was definitely not that of Mark Dallagher. The Court
of Appeal, when it reversed Dallagher’s conviction, was not made aware
of that earlier report either.

Meanwhile, where ear print identifications had been seriously
challenged by the defense, the evidence had not faired well in courts
around the globe. A conviction on ear print evidence obtained in 1998
in the United States would be reversed the following year. The case was
State v. Kunze, 97 Wash.App. 832, 988 P.2d 977 (1999), and was one in
which the same Dutch expert had played a major evidentiary role. (See Court Holds Earprint Identification Not Generally Accepted In Scientific Community).
A Netherlands conviction based on an ear photographic identification by
Mr. Van der Lugt, the Dutch expert testifying in his own back yard,
would equally be reversed by the Dutch Court of Appeal decision of May
8, 2000. (See Ear Identification In The News Again – This time it’s ear photographs! )

In this particular case it helped that:

A DNA analysis of the latent ear print on the basis of which Dallagher was convicted also showed he could NOT have produced it.
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