Innocence Project attorney M. Chris Fabricant presents an insider’s journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role junk science plays in maintaining the status quo.
"No one in America will ever know the number of innocent people convicted, sent to prison, and even executed because of the flood of rotten forensics and bogus scientific opinions presented to juries. In this intriguing and beautifully crafted book, Innocence Project lawyer M. Chris Fabricant illustrates how wrongful convictions occur, and he makes it obvious how they could be prevented."
—John Grisham, author of A Time for Mercy
From CSI to Forensic Files to the celebrated reputation of the FBI crime lab, forensic scientists have long been mythologized in American popular culture as infallible crime solvers. Juries put their faith in "expert witnesses" and innocent people have been executed as a result. Innocent people are still on death row today, condemned by junk science.
In 2012, the Innocence Project began searching for prisoners convicted by junk science, and three men, each convicted of capital murder, became M. Chris Fabricant's clients. Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System chronicles the fights to overturn their wrongful convictions and to end the use of the "science" that destroyed their lives. Weaving together courtroom battles from Mississippi to Texas to New York City and beyond, Fabricant takes the reader on a journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role forensic science plays in maintaining the status quo.
At turns gripping, enraging, illuminating, and moving, Junk Science is a meticulously researched insider's perspective of the American criminal justice system. Previously untold stories of wrongful executions, corrupt prosecutors, and quackery masquerading as science animate Fabricant’s true crime narrative.
Table of Contents
PART I: VIRGINIA V. KEITH ALLEN HARWARD & THE RISE OF JUNK SCIENCEONE: Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System
TWO: The Dentist as Forensic Scientist
THREE: Credentials, Case Law, and Ted Bundy
FIVE: Lethal Nonsense
SIX: Junk Science in the Supreme Court
SEVEN: Life, Liberty, and Daubert
PART II: TEXAS V. STEVEN MARK CHANEY & THE DNA REVOLUTION
ONE: The Innocence Project
TWO: The National Academy of Sciences Hearings
THREE: Steven Chaney’s Path Forward
FOUR: The Thirty-Eight Words that Moved the Junk Science Debate into Criminal Courts
FIVE: The Principle of Finality in the Age of Mass Incarceration
SIX: Denying Innocence
SEVEN: Executing the Innocent
EIGHT: Steven Chaney, Back on the Chain
NINE: Status Quo
PART III: MISSISSIPPI V. EDDIE LEE HOWARD & A JUNK SCIENCE RECKONING (OF SORTS)
ONE: A Junk Science Recall
TWO: The First Shots of the Bite Mark Wars
THREE: Steven Chaney’s New Lawyers
FOUR: Keith Harward’s Lost Lottery Ticket
FIVE: The Bite Mark Wars Get Nasty
SIX: Steven Chaney’s New Prosecutors
SEVEN: Keith Harward’s Checkmate
PART IV: EDDIE LEE HOWARD, STEVEN MARK CHANEY & THE DENTISTS’ LAST STAND
ONE: Our Heroes
TWO: The Texas Forensic Science Commission Hearings
THREE: Steven Chaney Faces His Trial Prosecutor
"Fact by fact, case by case, scandal by scandal, M. Chris Fabricant expertly dissects some of the grossest failures of challenged forensic science techniques, providing a hard-nosed insider’s tour of a fifty-year legal war to improve the US criminal justice system. Junk Science is for anyone wanting to go behind the headlines of wrongful convictions, who hungers to probe their root causes, and who is fighting to win criminal justice reform, inside and out of the system. Fabricant writes here like a combatant with a duty to bear witness, burning to teach an adversarial system how to come to terms with scientific truth and to show the monstrous toll of its failures."
—Spencer S. Hsu, investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist
"Junk Science is a powerful exposé of a broken criminal legal system, deeply researched and moving. A must-read for anyone interested in the role unreliable evidence plays in maintaining the status quo."
—Christina Swarns, executive director of the Innocence Project
"We think that science in the courtroom always serves justice—well, think again! This fascinating book by Innocence Project attorney M. Chris Fabricant shows how junk science in our criminal justice system is used to convict the innocent. Forget CSI and what you think of science in the courtroom, this eye-opening book from the front line of the battle for true justice could not be more urgent."
—Itiel Dror, Senior Cognitive Neuroscience Researcher, University College London