Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Codes of Ethics

Given Sunday's post about the many people out there claiming to be experts in Forensic Video Analysis, I began wondering if the courts could/should enforce a Code of Ethics.

I think many of the organizations out there for people that do what we do have some sort of statement about ethics or an actual Code of Ethics. The IACIS, for example, has theirs on their membership page.

IACIS Code of Ethics
IACIS members must demonstrate and maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.

IACIS members must:

  • Maintain the highest level of objectivity in all forensic examinations and accurately present the facts involved.
  • Thoroughly examine and analyze the evidence in a case.
  • Conduct examinations based upon established, validated principles.
  • Render opinions having a basis that is demonstratively reasonable.
  • Not withhold any findings, whether inculpatory or exculpatory, that would cause the facts of a case to be misrepresented or distorted.
  • Never misrepresent credentials, education, training, and experience or membership status.
How incredibly refreshing.

But, can an examiner accurately present the facts involved if they don't understand the science behind the tools and techniques that they employ? Can an examiner thoroughly examine and analyze the evidence if they don't have the appropriate tools - or those tools are out of date? Can "it just doesn't look right to me" be an established and valid principle? Is demonstratively reasonable too much to ask? Does your inclusion on the Superior Court's list of experts sufficient proof of your training, experience, and education?

To pull something like this off at the Superior Court level, it would take a court panel and judge that invests a bit of time to see what's out there in terms of gear, what the science says, who's doing what, and etc. 

I understand that the Courts are massively overworked. But, if you put a list out there, it should mean something. Sadly, the video/image section of LA County's list needs a bit of trimming.

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