Kate Judson knows too well that science and criminal justice can often be at odds.
After working as a public defender in New Mexico, the attorney spent seven years with the Innocence Network consulting on child abuse cases involving shaken baby syndrome. For years, the diagnosis had been used to support allegations of abuse, but Judson debunked those allegations with research indicating those diagnoses are often incorrect.
Now, Judson is the executive director of the Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences, a new nonprofit co-founded by former Wisconsin Innocence Project director Keith Findley and the lawyers Dean Strang and Jerome Buting, well-known for their defense of Steven Avery in the Netflix docuseries “Making a Murderer.” Judson now educates lawyers, courts and the public on the ways forensic science can be less than scientific — from the flimsy foundations of bite-mark science, to the inconsistencies and error rates of fingerprint analysis and hair comparisons.
The Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences has two principal functions. The first is to bring together distinguished academic scientists and legal professionals to collaborate on problems, processes, and policy in a way that no organization yet has attempted systematically. This will lead to better public policy advocacy and, CIFS believes, to legislation and judicial action that will strengthen the accuracy and reliability of forensic science in the courtroom.