The Intersection of Science and Justice: Does Forensic Science Have a Role in Ensuring Justice for All? A Spotlight on the 2024 AAFS Plenary Session

Source: Dean De Crisce, MD, Plenary Session Chair

In any fair legal system, individuals accused of committing crimes must be entitled to due process in the same manner as any other individual, regardless of demographics. In this vein, "Justice for All" as a mantra is a pervasive societal theme with a significant presence in both the forensic and legal realms. This theme, however, is more often associated with philosophical discussion within legal circles, rather than matters of scientific significance. As such, forensic scientists rarely lend their voice to these types of discussions.

As the forensic sciences heavily intersect with the legal realm, the 2024 Plenary Session has been designed to bridge this gap and explore this concept from these interrelated perspectives. Accordingly, this session will examine the concept of "Justice for All" within the forensic sciences with the goal of elucidating what role, if any, the forensic scientist may play toward ensuring fairness within the larger legal context. 

In alignment with the session title, the panel, comprised of renowned forensic, human factors, and legal experts, will discuss challenging issues within our field, including, but not limited to: (1) ow the philosophical discussion of "Justice for All" may apply to scientific endeavors; (2) how forensic scientists must balance the differing interests and values of various stakeholders within a context of justice and integrity; (3) how forensic experts can strive for impartiality and objectivity despite various biases inherent in the legal process; and (4) to what degree does ensuring fairness within the larger legal context apply to the forensic scientist?

The session will begin with individual panelist statements, followed by a question-and-answer format during which each the panelist will have the opportunity to respond to questions regarding the various challenges relating to these topics. As this will surely be a stimulating and thought-provoking conversation, the audience will certainly have some thoughts and feelings about the discussion as it proceeds. In order to ensure the highest level of audience engagement possible, attendees will have the opportunity to directly engage with the panelists during the final portion of the session.

Please be sure to join us on Wednesday, February 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. You do not want to miss this!


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