Forensic scientist fabricated evidence that sent men to jail, says judge

Originally published at: Forensic scientist fabricated evidence that sent men to jail, says judge | Boing Boing


I can’t help but wonder if this guy is a scapegoat for deeper problems with forensic evidence at trial.

Not really - that’s a separate (and real) issue. He’s never had the respect of others in the forensic science circles I’ve been a part of. He’s seen as a bit of a celebrity joke and a stain on the various fields he’s an “expert” in.

I mean he has/had a life-size cardboard cutout of himself in his office…


That’s a pity; Dr. Lee’s books were part of my reading during the initial run of CSI 20 years ago, when the idea of forensic science was new and interesting.


Considering how little of it stands up to properly blinded testing, I should say so. Aside from DNA you’d be hard pressed to find a forensic practice that isn’t little more than astrology.

Because of that, it’s probably easy for quacks like Lee to slip in among the more well-meaning members of the field. When something is largely unscientific, there’s no real standards to judge the work in the end. Discerning the quacks from the people trying to make it a useful tool is not so easy.


If the only evidence for conviction in other cases was forensic stuff that he did, those cases may now have a basis for appeal.


There’s a great podcast from Virginia public media called Admissable, that documents decades of fraud and incompetence in the VA crime lab. Highly worth a listen.


The test he supposedly used on the towel is a chemical one, not the modern DNA (looking for human DNA and blood proteins) and subject to false positives.

Also, the prosecutor went from that towel’s test to “there is NO TRACE of blood on them, their clothing or car BECAUSE they used THIS TOWEL to clean up with” when the towel (if it had blood on it) didn’t have enough blood on it to have been used in that manner to clean up two people after a bloody murder. Blood is hard to get rid of!

Test was " Tetramethyl Benzidine" also known as the TMB test. It is one of the most common presumptive tests for blood. It detects the peroxidase activity found in blood. ANYTHING that is a peroxidase will test positive. TMB gives false positive results for horseradish, garlic, green grapes, red grapes, etc.


And it’s not like THAT isn’t backlogged or anything.

The number of unprocessed rape kits is staggering and shameful.


3 damn decades lost. Jesus.


Oh my gosh, yes. I’ve been watching different types of true crime shows lately (cold case stuff, espionage) and the reliance on polygraphs is astounding! The Feds especially seem to like their tricked out blood pressure monitor.

One case was dealing with a mole in the State Dept. and they used previously failed polygraphs as a way to whittle down their 300-some-odd suspect list. I may have injured my eyes by rolling them so hard. :roll_eyes:


It is, and in many jurisdictions that’s not a function of resource limits, but a function of the cops and DAs not caring about rape. :rage: Deep down, most men still think most women are making it up when they accuse a man.


Polygraphs are like forensic cancer. They show up in all sorts of important places despite being 100% bullshit. It’s the chiropractic of forensics- they’ve been around so long and talked about seriously enough that everyone assumes there must be something to it. It’s been normalized and legitimized simply by everyone assuming it’s normal and legitimate.

Fortunately, polygraphs are not admissible in courts as evidence, but they do still get used a lot quietly behind the scenes by investigators, and all sorts of administrations use them in job interviews and such. Totally maddening that this witchcraft nonsense is taken so seriously.


Don’t worry, I’m sure polygraphs are on their way out. Soon they will be replaced by asking ChatGPT whether somebody is lying!

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for some of those cases, no one was ever convicted. so he may have helped someone go free who was guilty.


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