NIST urges caution in use of courtroom evidence presentation method

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Courtroom use of ‘Likelihood Ratio’ not consistently supported by scientific reasoning approach, say NIST experts

Two experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are calling into question a method of presenting evidence in courtrooms, arguing that it risks allowing personal preference to creep into expert testimony and potentially distorts evidence for a jury.

EurekAlert 2b logo LLLLLLThe method involves the use of Likelihood Ratio (LR), a statistical tool that gives experts a shorthand way to communicate their assessment of how strongly forensic evidence, such as a fingerprint or DNA sample, can be tied to a suspect.

In essence, LR allows a forensics expert to boil down a potentially complicated set of circumstances into a number–providing a…

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