Formation of Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy Completed

By Sobel, Allan D. | Judicature, January/February 2006 | Go to article overview

Formation of Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy Completed


Sobel, Allan D., Judicature


I have very exciting news to report. Formation of the American Judicature Society Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy has been completed. A roster appears on page 194. When you review the membership, I am confident you will agree that AJS has established a world class commission to advise the AJS Institute of Forensic Science and Public Policy regarding its research agenda and ultimately to consider the very best ways to bring and apply the knowledge of science to the job of improving the administration of justice. In the words spoken by United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy at the launch of the Institute and Commission in Washington last November:

In the end, science seeks for truth. In the end, law seeks for truth. And in the end, both of us use our disciplines to shape our destiny and to ensure human progress, and we must do this together.

The Commission was formed in the spirit of Justice Kennedy's remarks. Dr. Donald Kennedy, renowned scientist, president emeritus of Stanford University, editor in chief of Science magazine, and chair of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Science, Technology and Law, is honorary chair. The three co-chairs are Dr. Stephen E. Fienberg, Maurice Falk Professor of Statistics and Social Science at Carnegie Mellon University, chair of the National Research Council's committee to review scientific evidence on the polygraph, and past president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the International Society for Bayesian Analysis; former United States Attorney General Janet Reno, whose vision led us to embrace the concepts that support our work in this area, whose tireless efforts made all that we have accomplished possible, who is on the AJS Board of Directors, and to whom we are forever grateful; and Judge William Webster, whose career of public service is unsurpassed. Judge Webster has served our country as a United States Attorney in Missouri, a federal appellate court judge, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and in key positions on commissions and otherwise where he was called upon to help restore trust and confidence in areas that aroused public suspicion and concern.

The Commission is made up of fourteen scientists, three jurists, five past or present law enforcement officials, a representative of the victims of crime community, a journalist, five academics in programs educating current and future law enforcement officers and attorneys, the general counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, six current or former prosecutors, and two attorneys who have devoted a substantial portion of their careers to representing individuals accused in criminal proceedings and others claiming innocence in post-conviction proceedings. Moreover, the American Judicature Society is honored that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has designated the Office of Legal Policy to serve as the United States Department of Justice's liaison to the Commission. Richard Herding, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy, will fill the assignment.

The inaugural Commission meeting is scheduled for March 31-April 2 in Greensboro, North Carolina, home of the Institute. Commission members will discuss fundamental issues and reach understandings essential to the future work of the Institute and Commission; get to know one another and AJS leadership; visit the Institute offices; and help the Institute build its first research agenda. As to where we go from here, the possibilities are endless. Stay tuned.

American Judicature Society Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy

Honorary Chair

Dr. …

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Formation of Commission on Forensic Science and Public Policy Completed
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