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Law Reviews

Law reviews are important sources of information concerning odontology – they provide an insight into how the consumers of forensic science – the Courts, view the discipline.  Forensic science is unique in that it is peer assessed in two main fora – the peer reviewed literature and the Courts. The following law reviews are interesting in that little has changed as one progresses from the earliest to the latest despite changes in Commonwealth and US law (i.e. Daubert etc).  These reviews are placed here for educational use – if you are a copyright holder that objects to this – please let us know!.

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The following reviews are available for download – just click on the PDF link – we will update this section as new reviews become available.

1) 2010: Bite This!
The role of bitemark analyses in wrongful convictions – Roger Metcalf et al – pdf-icon-small

2) 2010: An inconvenient tooth!:
Forensic odontology is an inadmissible junk science when it is used to “match” teeth to bitemarks in skin – Adam Deitch – pdf-icon-small

3) 2006: The judicial view of bitemarks within the United States Criminal Justice System
A non lawyers view of the admissibility arguments – Pretty & Sweet  pdf-icon-small

4) 1996: Reality Bites!
The illusion of science in bitemark evidence – Erica Beecher-Monas –  pdf-icon-small

5) 1978: The admissibility of bitemark evidence:
Perhaps the most comprehensive treatise to date- Adrienne Hale – pdf-icon-small

6) 1981: Criminal Law – Expert Testimony on Bite Marks, 4 Campbell L. Rev. 179 
Great review of the law and position in these cases. Ben H. Sirmons Jr.,pdf-icon-small

7) 2007: Criminal Law Bulletin –  Bite Mark Analysis,
A further comprehensive and articulate examination of the science and law on the admissibility of biteamarks. Paul C Giannelli .,pdf-icon-small

These law reviews often represent hundreds of hours of research and similar in length to some masters dissertations! The depth of analysis is often key when reading these – and we have provided access to some of the key decisions mentioned in these papers within the Appeals section of the site.  Note that all of these reviews concern themselves with bitemarks – this is only element of forensic odontology – the discipline of human identification has never been subject to a law review.

Other Legal Resources of Interest

Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence (Federal Judicial Centre et al. eds., 3d ed. 2011). In this document a range of forensic sciences are discussed – bitemarks feature and are stated as a science but with some interesting comments – the document considers strengths and weaknesses. pdf-icon-small

The Innocence Project’s Amicus Brief on bitemarks seeks to argue that they should not be admitted as they would fail to meet the requirements of Fryepdf-icon-small

Here is the ABFO’s (though the DAs) reply to this Amicus in the case of Clarence Dean – you can read more on this in another post, but you are at page 6 before you get past credentials and talk of dental identification – something nothing to do with bitemarks.  Interestingly in the sources described to support the reply – no mention of peer reviewed literature  pdf-icon-small.

Unsure of itself as either a trade union or a scientific body the ABFO responds to the Amicus in a typically aggressive fashion – the sources of the brief are listed as  “This brief is submitted in reply to the Frye motion and brief submitted by counsel for Clarence Dean and to the filed by the Innocence Project as amicus in this case. This reply is based upon the testimony and evidence adduced at the Frye hearing conducted in this matter as well as upon attendance at meetings of the Forensic Odontology section and other sections of the American Academy of Forensic Science, journal articles, transcripts of other proceedings, and conversations with Dr. Thomas J. David, Dr. Robert Shapiro, and Brad Gessner, prosecutor in Summit County, Ohio.”  But no mention of science, peer reviewed articles?  Surely a perfect example of circular logic?.