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Commentary By James B. Meigs

How Fake Science Corrupts Criminal Justice

Public Safety Policing, Crime Control

In 1992, Eddie Lee Howard, a poor black man, was accused of murdering an 84-year-old woman in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Howard had a solid alibi, and the state had no concrete evidence against him. In the original autopsy, the assigned pathologist had found knife wounds, but his report included nothing that would tie the victim specifically to Howard. Investigators needed more. So they brought in “forensic odontologist” Michael West, a Mississippi dentist famous for his ability to use tinted goggles, ultraviolet light, and other gadgets to discover previously unnoticed human bite marks on the bodies of victims. He’d dubbed his self-invented technique the “West Phenomenon.” The victim’s body was disinterred and returned to the morgue. Then, West “got his camera, lenses, UV lights, and yellow goggles out of the trunk of his car and went to work,” writes M. Chris Fabricant in his spellbinding Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System.

Continue reading the entire piece here at the Washington Examiner


James B. Meigs is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a City Journal contributing editor, cohost of the How Do We Fix It? podcast, and the former editor of Popular Mechanics.

This piece originally appeared in Washington Examiner