The head of the UK Supreme Court has recommended Jury primers for forensic science in a piece called “Stop needless dispute of science in the courts” published in Nature this week.
We have described the use of the Jury primers before – they present a means of showing the trier of fact the scope, and limitations of a science. This helps jurys and keeps forensic scientists within the bounds of the science and, as Lord Neuberger states, prevents needless argument and discussion of matters that cannot really be challenged.
There are currently no formally approved Jury Primers and it would be helpful to design a protocol that enables such documents to be delivered in a standardised manner – avoiding subjectivity and personal views on the value of certain aspects of science.
In many ways the procedure would not be that different from the methods adopted by the Texas Forensic Science Commission in its assessment of hair and bitemark analysis. Indeed, the final report the TFSC into bitemarks may well be an embryonic primer – they have assessed the evidence and made a case for those elements that can , and cannot, be supported.
You can read the Nature article by clicking here.
It will be interesting to see if the primer idea catches on – either in the UK or the US.